Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/48

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33
GUILLOTIN IMPRISONED.

back into more than his original obscurity, to which was soon superadded the increasing horror of the times. His retreat, indeed, was so profound, that it was said, and readily believed, that he too had fallen a victim to his own invention.[1] But it was not so; he was indeed imprisoned during the Jacobin reign of terror—his crime being, it is said (Guyot, p. 8), that he testified an indiscreet indignation at a proposition made to him by Danton to superintend the construction of a triple guillotine. There is no doubt that a double and perhaps a triple instrument was thought of, and it is said that such a machine was made and intended to be erected in the great halt of the Palais de Justice, but it was certainly never used.[2]

The general gaol delivery of the 9th Thermidor released Guillotin, and he afterwards lived in a decent mediocrity of fortune at Paris, esteemed, it is said, by a small circle of friends, but overwhelmed by a deep sensibility to the great, though we cannot say wholly undeserved, misfortune which had rendered his name ignominious and his very existence a subject of fearful curiosity. He just lived to see the Restoration, and died in his bed, in Paris, on the 26th of May, 1814, at the age of seventy-six.

  1. This was so generally believed, that Mr. Todd, in introducing the word Guillotine into his edition of Johnson's Dictionary, states it as a fact.
  2. Fouquier-Tinville himself stated, at his trial, that, though he frequently tried and condemned above 250 within the décade (nine days), the Committee of Public Safety complained that it was too slow, and it was intended that four ambulatory criminal tribunals should be created, each to be accompanied by a locomotive guillotine!—Procès de Fouquier, No. 29.