Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/55

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40
ESSAY ON THE GUILLOTINE.

cutioner never touched it. This mode of executing is so sure that the hatchet entered the block above two inches."—Guyot, p. 5.

This was the same machine which, under the name of "mannaia," was common in Italy, and is described very minutely and technically by Le Père Labat in his 'Voyage en Italie,' 1730, as the more honorific mode of capital punishment.

But the most curious, though not the most exact, of all the precedents for the guillotine is that which is found in Randle Holme's 'Academy of Armoury,' 1678, in which he describes a family (whose name is not given) as bearing heraldically,—

"Gules, a heading-block fixed between two supporters, and an axe placed therein; on the sinister side a maule: all proper."

And this strange coat-of-arms is thus figured:—

Coat of arms with heading-block (Holme, 1678).png

Holme adds,

"That this was the Jews' and Romans' way of beheading offenders, as some write, though others say that they used to cut off the heads of such with a sharp two-handed sword. However, this way of decollation was by laying the neck of the malefactor on the block, and then setting the axe upon it, which lay in a rigget [groove] on the two side-posts or supporters. The executioner, with the violence of