Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/92

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77
"LES TRICOTEUSES."

—"of God and man for the institution; of the Revolutionary Tribunal," and Madame Roland—also on the scaffold—lamenting "the crimes committed in the name of liberty" we acknowledge the sincerity, but cannot but feel a kind of revulsion and indignation at the selfishness, of their tardy and unavailing repentance.

We abstain from any details of the thousands of murders committed by the Guillotine at that time, but one fact will enable our readers to understand something of its horrors. It was proved on the trial of Fouquier-Tinville that 160 persons, of all ages, sexes, and ranks, were tried and executed on a charge of conspiracy, not merely false, but absurd, visionary, and impossible:—forty-five of these persons, who were utterly unknown to each other, were tried and condemned within twenty minutes, and executed in the same evening in almost as short a space!

These executions were for many months the amusement—the spectacle of the people, we wish we could safely say the populace, of Paris; but, as we before stated, chairs were stationed round the instrument, where women, in a station of life to be able to pay for that amusement, used to hire seats, and sit, and chat, and work (whence they were called les tricoteuses de la Guillotine), while waiting for the tragedy which they looked at as a farce.

We find in the Revue Retrospective a curious letter incidentally descriptive of this elegant scene of Parisian amusement:—