Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/69

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

long before the 10th August the Jacobins avowed their intentions of bringing the King to that species of death; two lines of Malherbe's beautiful ode on the death of Rose Duperier, descriptive of the mortality of all mankind, being applied (alas! too prophetically) to threaten the King with his impending fate from the new machine:—

"Inscription proposée pour la Guillotine.

"Et la garde qui veille aux barrières du Louvre
 N'en défend pas nos Rois."—Rev. de Par., No. 146.

And now, just as the machine had attained its mechanical perfection, occurred that event winch was to call it into full activity as a political engine, and to develop in it that aptitude for wholesale murder which was, we are satisfied, one of the main causes of the maniacal cruelty with which it was employed; facility begat use, and multitudes were sent to the other world merely because it had become so very easy to send them! Voltaire had already characterised his countrymen as a mixture of the monkey and the tiger; that the tiger predominated was sufficiently proved even before the guillotine came into operation; but without this massacre-made-easy invention the tiger would have much sooner become, if not satiated, at least wearied, with slaughter.

The Tenth of August came. We shall say no more about that fatal day than to observe, in reference to our present subject, that it affords a characteristic instance of the effrontery and falsehood by which the whole Revolution was conducted, and the most re-