Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/28

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13
ORIGIN OF THE NAME.

of the National Assembly, and had been guilty of some indiscreet (to say the least of it) encouragement to the early massacres; Coupe-tête was one Jourdain (afterwards more widely celebrated for his share in the massacres of Avignon), who derived his title of Coupe-tête from having cut off the heads of the two Gardes du Corps, Messrs. Des Huttes and Varicourt, who were murdered in the palace of Versailles on the 6th of October. But—O, divine Justice!—these very patrons of massacre—Barnave, and Chapelier, and Coupe-tête—were themselves all massacred by the Guillotine: Barnave, a deep and interesting penitent, on the 29th of November, 1793; Chapelier, 17th of April, 1794; and Jourdain, covered with the blood of human hecatombs, 27th May, 1794.

The name, however, of Guillotine, thus given in derision and by anticipation, stuck, as the phrase is, in spite of a momentary attempt to call it the Louison, after M. Louis, the secretary of the College of Surgeons, who did actually preside over the construction of the machine which Guillotin had only indicated. But it was at first chiefly used as a term of reproach and ridicule; and we read in the Moniteur of the 18th of December, 1789, some 'Observations on the motion of Dr. Guillotin for the adoption of a machine which should behead animals in the twinkling of an eye,' censuring the "levity with which some periodical papers have made trivial and indecent remarks," &c., alluding, no doubt, to the song of the Actes des Apôtres, which had a great