Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/30

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15
MASSACRE OF CLERMONT TONNÈRE.

bilities which blasted the first fair promises of the young Revolution—M. de Clermont Tonnère, we say, took occasion, on the topic of the injustice of the prejudices which attached to the families of criminals, to invoke the sympathy of the Assembly for two other classes of persons who were still injuriously affected by the same kind of prejudice—he meant Actors and Executioners! If satire had been devising how to ridicule these philosophical legislators, it could scarcely have hit on anything better than an attempt to class Actors and Executioners in the same category, and to extirpate such prejudices by statute law.

It is but justice to M. de Clermont Tonnère to say that he saw very soon, though still too late, the danger of the many liberal and silly impulses to which he had at first given way, and endeavoured, but in vain, to stay the plague which he unintentionally had helped to propagate; by the recovery of his good sense he lost his popularity, and was massacred on the evening of the 10th of August in a garret where he had taken refuge, by the people whose idol he had been as long as he advocated the dignity of players and the sensibilities of the hangman.

The National Assembly seems to have been reluctant to renew the discussion on Guillotin's propositions, but a case which arose about the middle of January, 1790, proves that, although Guillotin and his machine found little favour in the Assembly, the proposition which he and M. de Clermont had