The chafing-dish on which the sulphur was being burnt with the hot coals filled the atmosphere with acrid vapour. Damiens coughed, and, while the as- sistants were making him fast to the platform, he looked at his right hand with the same expression of sadness which had appeared on his face when looking at his legs after torture. His arm was tied to an iron bar so that the wrist should over-reach the last board of the platform. Gabriel Sanson brought the chafing-dish. When the blue flanie touched Damiens' skin he uttere<3 a frightful shriek, and tried to break his bonds. But when the first pang had shot through him he raised his; head and looked at his burning hand without mani- festing his feelings otherwise than by grinding his teeth. This first part of the execution lasted three minutes. Charles Henri Sanson saw the chafing-dish trembling in his uncle's hands. By his pallor, which was almost as. deathly as the sufferer's, and the shudder which made his limbs shake,, he perceived that he could not proceed with the burning with red-hot pincers ; and he offered a hundred livres to one of the valets if he would under . take the horrible task. The man, whose name was Andre Legris, accepted. The remainder of the execu- tion was proceeded with ; every clause of the atrocious sentence was literally carried out, and, when the four horses had dismembered the body, the remains of Damiens were thrown on the pile. It was discovered that the victim's hair, which was brown when he was brought to the Greve, had turned as white as snow.^ The execution of Damiens produced so fearful an impression on Gabriel Sanson, that he was induced to throw up the office of executioner of the Prevote de THotel. He gave it to his nephew in return for a yearly- stipend of two thousand four hundred livres. Charles Sanson henceforth discharged two functions which had hitherto been separate. ' The translator has thought fit to suppress some of the really too horrible details of this execution ; and if he has preserved its main features,
it is because he thought he had no right to divest this historical occurrence of that which might fully impress the reader with its atrocious cruelty, with- .out entering into too sickening details. — N. Ed.