Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/67

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Paris, there seems some doubt whether the Procureur-Général of Versailles did not anticipate Rœderer by a day. We have evidence in the papers published by the 'Revue Retrospective' that one Challan, the Procureur-Général of Versailles, was exceedingly anxious for the machine, and had used every means to obtain an early specimen; and we find in the 'Journal of Perlet,' 25th April, 1792, p. 198, the following passage:—

"It is supposed that the punishment of death was yesterday [either the 23rd or 24th] inflicted at Versailles on two criminals by the new mode of decollation, and that it will be immediately employed in this capital on a journeyman butcher convicted of murder (assassinat)."

This seems almost decisive; but we still suspect that Perlet's anticipation that the two men had been executed the day before, meaning either the 23rd or 24th, was erroneous, and that the execution at Paris was the first; for on the 19th of April Rœderer acquaints his impatient colleague of Versailles that, although he had bespoken him an instrument, it could not be ready for some days, and directs him not to fix the day for the first execution. It is, therefore, hardly possible that the zeal of M. Challan could have outrun Rœderer by two days.

However that may be, it is clear that in the execution of Pelletier, on the 25th of April at Paris, and in several others which soon followed, the new machine performed its terrible duty with complete success, and amidst, as far as appears from the press,