Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/54

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39
ITALIAN MACHINE IN 1702.

maiden were the Marquis of Argyle, in 1661,[1] and his son the Earl, in 1685,—the latter declaring, as he pressed his lips on the block, that it was the sweetest maiden he had ever kissed,[2]

An anonymous friend of Dr. Guillotin's, quoted by Guyot, states that his ideas were formed, not from these English precedents—about which he probably knew nothing, though recalled to public attention in the then so recent work of Pennant—but from a passage in an anonymous work called 'Voyage Historique et Politique de Suisse, d'Italie, et d'Allemagne', printed from 1736 to 1743, in which is found the following account of the execution at Milan, in 1702, of a Count Bozelli:—

"A large scaffold was prepared in the great square, and covered with black. In the middle of it was placed a great block, of the height to allow the criminal, when kneeling, to lay his neck on it between a kind of gibbet which supported a hatchet one foot deep and one and a half wide, which was confined by a groove. The hatchet was loaded with an hundred pounds weight of lead, and was suspended by a rope made fast to the gibbet. After the criminal had confessed himself, the penitents, who are for the most part of noble families, led him up on the scaffold, and, making him kneel before the block, one of the penitents held the head under the hatchet; the priest then reading the prayers usual on such occasions, the executioner had nothing to do but cut the cord that held up the hatchet, which, descending with violence, severed the head, which the penitent still held in his hands, so that the exe-

  1. "His head was separated from his body by the descent of the maiden."—4 Laing, p. 11.
  2. Scott's Prose Works, vol. xxiv., p. 280.