Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/40

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25
SANSON'S 'OBSERVATIONS.'

"3rd March, 1792.

"The executioner represents to us that he fears he cannot fulfil the intentions of the law, which is, that the criminal shall suffer nothing beyond the simple privation of life. The executioner fears that from want of experience he may make decollation a frightful torture, and we entertain the same apprehensions."

These letters, we see, refer to the opinion of the Executioner himself; and as that opinion has been preserved, our readers will not, we think, be sorry to see, as a literary curiosity, an essay by such a hand on such a subject.

"Memorandum of Observations on the Execution of Criminals by Beheading; with the nature of the various objections which it presents, and to which it is really liable—

"That is to say:—

"In order that the execution may be performed according to the intention of law [simple privation of life], it is necessary that, even without any obstacle on the part of the criminal, the executioner himself should be very expert, and the criminal very firm, without which one could never get through an execution by the sword without the certainty of dangerous accidents. "After one execution, the sword will be no longer in a condition to perform another: being liable to get notched, it is absolutely necessary, if there are' many persons to execute at the same time, that it should be ground and sharpened anew. It would be necessary then to have a sufficient number of swords all ready. That would lead to great and almost insurmountable difficulties.

"It is also to be remarked that swords have been very often broken in executions of this kind.