Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lucile's Unfortunate End

                                                      19th Century guillotine blade on
                                                     display in the Conciergerie Prison

An excerpt from "Paris in the Terror," by Stanley Loomis:

As Camille Desmoulins had foreseen, his wife soon followed his footsteps to the guillotine … Lucile was arrested immediately after Camille’s execution. It suited the Committee [of Public Safety] to support St. Just’s story of a “dangerous conspiracy in the prisons.” Along with having been seen in the vicinity of the Luxembourg (carrying the baby Horace in her arms in the hope that Camille might catch a glimpse of him),* Lucile had gone to Robespierre’s house and tried to gain admittance in order to plead with the Incorruptible on her husband’s behalf. No man was less accessible to the pleas of wailing women than Robespierre, and his door remained adamantly closed. Such manifestations of despair conveniently lent themselves to St. Just’s contention that revolt was afoot, and Lucile was accordingly arrested.
Lucile was condemned to death on April 13, along with eighteen other victims. She accepted her sentence with serenity. “In a few hours I shall see my Camille again,” she declared to her judges. “I am therefore less to be pitied than you, for at your death, which will be infamous, you will be haunted by remorse for what you have done.” At the same trial, the widow of Hebert was also condemned. The two women whose husbands had so bitterly hated each other struck up a friendship in the last few days of their life. “You are lucky,” Mme. Hebert said to Lucile as they departed for the scaffold. “Nobody speaks ill of you. There is no shadow upon your character. You are leaving life by the grand staircase.”
Upon hearing the news of her daughter’s sentence [Lucile's mother] sent a frantic letter to Robespierre. “It is not enough for you to have murdered your best friend [Camille],” she cried. “You must have his wife’s blood as well. Your monster Fouquier-Tinville has just ordered Lucile to be taken to the scaffold. In less than two hours’ time she will be dead. If you aren’t a human tiger, if Camille’s blood hasn’t driven you mad, if you are still able to remember the happy evenings you once spent before our fire fondling our Horace, spare an innocent victim. If not — then hurry and take us all, Horace, myself and my other daughter Adele. Hurry and tear us apart with your claws that still drip with Camille’s blood … hurry, hurry so that we can all sleep in the same grave!”

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