Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/56

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

a blow on the head of the axe with his heavy maule [mallet], forced it through the man's neck into the block. I have seen a draught of the like heading instrument, where the weighty axe (made heavy for that purpose) was raised up, and fell down in such a riggeted frame, which being suddenly let to fall, the weight of it was sufficient to cut off a man's head at one blow."—p. 312.

We know not where it is written by any contemporaneous authority that this was a mode of execution among the Jews and Romans, but there are engravings and woodcuts of the sixteenth century which carry back guillotines of great, elaboration to the times of antiquity. We have now before us two copperplate engravings of the German school, the one by George Pencz (who died in 1550), and the other by Henry Aidegraver, which bears the date of 1553, both representing the death of the son of Titus Manlius, by an instrument in principle identical with the guillotine, though somewhat more decorated.

The frontispiece of these pages is a copy of Aldegraver's print, which we have selected for that purpose, because it carries its own date.

We have also in our possession 'Symbolicæ Questiones de universo Geneve, ' by Achilles Bocchi, quarto, 1555, of which the eighteenth symbol represents a Spartan about to die by a kind of guillotine.

The metrical legend of the symbol runs:—

" Damnatus ab Ephoris, Lacon
Cum duceretur ad necem, et vultu admodum
Hilari esset ac læto, &c. &c."