Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/42

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Sanson's 'observations.'

the honour of giving this forewarning of the many accidents that these executions may produce if attempted by the sword.

"It is therefore indispensable that, in order to fulfil the humane intentions of the National Assembly, some means should be found to avoid delays and assure certainty, by fixing the patient so that the success of the operation shall not be doubtful.

"By this the intention of the legislature will be fulfilled, and the executioner himself protected from any accidental effervescence of the public—Charles Henry Sanson."

We think our readers will be surprised at the good sense and decency of M. Sanson's[1] observations on a very delicate subject, and they will have noticed the gentle hint that he gives that the National Assembly had legislated on a matter they did not understand, and passed a law that would have defeated its own object; but what is most strange is that here is—not only no mention of the machine which had made so much noise three years before, but—decisive evidence that it was understood by the executioner himself, as it at first sight seems to have been by everybody else, that the law contemplated execution by the sword. But the truth, we believe, was that Guillotin's proposition had been smothered by ridicule and by the detected insignificance of the proposer, and no one was desirous of openly associating himself to this odious invention; but that it was all along intended to adopt it seems evident from

  1. See in the Appendix a note relative to Sanson.