"The executioner of Paris possesses only two, which were given him by the ci-devant Parliament of Paris. They cost 600 livres [24l.] apiece.
"It is to be considered that, when there shall be several criminals to execute at the same time, the terror that such an execution presents, by the immensity of blood which it produces and which is scattered all about, will carry fright and weakness into the most intrepid hearts of those whose turn is to come. Such weaknesses would present an invincible obstacle to the execution. The patient being no longer able to support himself, the execution, if persisted in, will become a struggle and a massacre.
"Even in executions of another class [hanging], which do not need anything like the precision that this kind requires, we have seen criminals grow sick at the sight of the execution of their companions—at least they are liable to that weakness: all that is against beheading with the sword. In fact, who could bear the sight of so bloody an execution without feeling and showing some such weakness?
"In the other kind of execution it is easy to conceal those weaknesses from the public, because, in order to complete the operation, there is no necessity that the patient should continue firm and without fear; but in this, if the criminal falters, the execution must fail also.
"How can the executioner have the necessary power over a man who will not or cannot keep himself in a convenient posture?
"It seems, however, that the National Assembly only devised this species of execution for the purpose of preventing the length to which executions in the old way were protracted.
"It is in furtherance of their humane views that I have
Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/41
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ESSAY ON THE GUILLOTINE.