On 31 August 1791, the «reformer of execution», Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, informed the French National Assembly of the invention of his «remarkable» device.
«Gentlemen,» he said, «with my machine, one’s head will be cut off in a flash. Not the slightest pain but only a light breeze over one’s neck will be felt.»
Dr. Guillotin’s words, as the chronicler testifies, were received with laughter and applause. If the members of the Assembly had known that many of them were soon to meet the «National Razor» (as the Guillotine was popularly called), they would not have been in a hurry to laugh.
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova