Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/46

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dead bodies, or even on a living sheep. We should then see whether it might not be necessary to fix the neck of the patient in a semicircle, which should confine the neck just where it joins the hinder bone of the skull; the extremities of this semicircle might be fastened by bolts to the solid parts of the scaffold. This addition, if it shall appear necessary, would create no observation, and would be scarcely perceivable.

"Given in consultation at Paris, this 7th of March, 1792.


Here is no mention of nor allusion to Guillotin or any previous machine, except one supposed to be in use in England; and however strong might be the desire of keeping Guillotin out of sight, it seems hardly possible to imagine that, if he had made any model or given any distinct description of a machine, M. Louis could have treated the matter as he did. We find, however, that, while it was thus pending, Rœderer, then Procureur-Général (chief legal authority) of the Département, wrote the following private note to Dr. Guillotin:—

"Dear Sir and Ex-Colleague,—I should be very much obliged if you would be so good as to come to the office of the Department, No. 4, Place Vendôme, at your earliest convenience. The Directory [of the Department of Paris] is unfortunately about to be called upon to determine the mode of decapitation which will be henceforward employed for the execution of the 3rd article of the Penal Code. I am instructed to invite you to communicate to me the important ideas which you have collected and compared with