Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/87

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

we Infer from the anecdote is, that public opinion was willing to colour with its own indignation the cheeks of Mademoiselle de Corday.

Here also, on the 16th of October, 1793, fell a once beauteous head—now whitened by sorrow, not by age—and venerable for the angelic purity and patience, the royal courage and Christian submission, with which it had exchanged the most brilliant crown of the world for a crown of thorns, and that again for the crown of martyrdom. Here died the Queen—one of the noblest and the purest, and yet, if human judgments be alone weighed, the most unfortunate of women—tried in almost every possible agony of affliction—except a guilty conscience—and in that exception finding the consolation for all. She arrived at this scene of her last and greatest triumph, jolted in a common cart,[1] and ascended the scaffold amidst the vociferations of a crowd of furies, whom we hesitate to acknowledge as of her own sex. Never in that gorgeous palace, on which she now cast a last calm look, did she appear more glorious—never was she so really admirable as she was at that supreme moment of her earthly release.

We have followed the history of Marie Antoinette with the greatest diligence and scrupulosity. We

    sudden rush of air into the head through the severed neck produces that kind of sound which suggested to the Pere Duchesne the horrid phrase of "éternuer dans le sac"

  1. Mr. Alison for once departs from his hackneyed French authorities, and says she was drawn on a hurdle. There is no pretence for this statement; and, on the contrary, there is abundant evidence that she came in a cart.