Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/91

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firmness. It was a favour to be allowed to die first, in order to be spared the terrible spectacle of the death of others, and this favour—denied to Madame Elizabeth—was offered to Madame Roland, but she thought her companion needed it more than herself, and begged him to precede her; and when the executioner objected, she said with a smile, "You won't refuse the last request of a lady?" and La Marche was executed first.

It was some time, though we do not know exactly the day, between the executions of Charlotte Corday and the Queen, that a huge plaster statue of Liberty—grotesque by its disproportion, and hideous from its distortion—was erected on the pedestal of the overthrown statue of Louis XV., in front of which the new scaffold stood. In a print of the execution of Mdlle. de Corday there is no statue on the pedestal; but it was there, if we may credit Helman's print, when the Queen was immolated, and to it Madame Roland, with something of characteristic pedantry, is said to have addressed her celebrated apostrophe, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" Crimes enough—crimes enormous—had been committed in the name of liberty ever since the 14th of July, 1789, and many abominable ones during the ministry and with, at least, the connivance of Madame Roland and her husband, but it was not till she was herself sent to prison and brought to the scaffold that they struck her so forcibly. When we find Danton "begging pardon"—on the scaffold