Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/82

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67
EXECUTION OF LOUIS XVI.

since Place de la Concorde—and on the spot where now stands the Luxor obelisk, there had stood a statue of Louis XV.; this statue was overthrown on the 11th of August, but the magnificent pedestal, though a little dilapidated about the summit, remained. There has been some doubt as to the exact spot where the scaffold for the execution of the King was erected. Historians never descend to such minutiæ, and painters and engravers are sometimes lax in their perspective, but we think we may say, chiefly on the authority of a fine print, "presented to the Convention" by its publisher, Helman, that the exact site of the scaffold was a few yards west of this pedestal, that is, towards the Champs Elysées, and the steps were from the westward, so that the King when he mounted the scaffold looked over the pedestal of his grandfather's statue to the centre pavilion of his own devastated palace. When he endeavoured to address the people, he turned to the left towards the Rue Royale, and, Mercier tells us, Nouveau Tableau de Paris, ch. 82, that he was, at a signal from Santerre—who commanded the troops and directed the execution—seized from behind by two executioners, and, in spite of his desire to be allowed to finish what he had to say, he was bound to the bascule, or balanced

    mention of the guillotine on this occasion, nor does he even say where the execution took place. He tells us the procession lasted two hours, but whether it went north, east, west, or south—or whether the King might not have been executed at Versailles or St. Denis—not a word; and, when he comes to speak of the Queen's death, he merely tells us that "she was executed where the King had been"—which is true as to the great Place itself, but not as to the exact spot.