Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/65

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pretence to the invention, and he was soon forgotten; for, by another strange fatality attending the ominous machine, M. Louis himself died within a month of the day that it was first brought into actual operation.

While all this was going on, convicts for various crimes were accumulating in the different prisons of the kingdom, and the local authorities in the Departments pressed to have their respective machines with a savage eagerness of which many of themselves had soon to repent in tears and blood. At last, on the 17th of April, 1792, after a great many delays and postponements, an actual experiment was made of Schmidt's instrument, under the inspection of Sanson, in the great hospital of Bicètre, on several dead bodies, which was so entirely successful that the order was issued for the execution, on Monday the 23rd, of the wretched Pelletier, whose case had led to all these proceedings, and who had been lingering under his sentence for near three months. It seems, however, that he was not executed till the 25th, as Rœderer writes a letter dated that day to Lafayette, to say that, as the execution by the mode of beheading will no doubt occasion a great crowd in the Place de Greve, he begs the General will direct the gensd'armes who are to attend the execution not to leave the place till the scaffold, &c., shall be removed; and we find, in a Revolutionary journal called the 'Courier Extraordinaire, par M. Duplain,' of the date of the 27th April, 1792, the following pararagraph:—