EXECUTION OF PRANZINI.
SHOCKING SCENE ON THE SCAFFOLD. THE MURDERER'S CAREER. (FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.) London, September 7th.
Ix the cold grey dawn of Wednesday morn" ing last, the handsome, but ruthless Levantine whose illicit amours and ferocious murders have been the talk of Paris for rather more than six months, paid the wellmerited penalty of his crimes at the guillotine. Up to the last Pranzini made no confession, lie had threatened that on the eve of execution he would reveal startling facts, .calculated to compromise some of the haute noble ne. When the dread hour camo, however, he had nothing to say, and though — as will bo gathered from the following accounts — the wretched man tried to meet his doom with theatrical bravado, he broke down eventually, and whilst waiting for the knife to descend shrieked piteou<4y. The execution, in point of fact, seems to have been a most shocking affah\ The "Daily News" correspondent, wiring to that journal, says : — I witnessed the execution this morning. The sight was so ghastly that few who were within seeing distance would desire, I believo, to see .such another one again. As for the mob, it could have seen nothing but the top of the guillotine and the municipal dragoon guard?. Pranzini's grave had been dug for five days. The sexton in such a case as his is only employed the day before the execution. This was why there was so much premature watching. M. lireVy had asked for precise information from Pranzini which might lead to an alibi being established, but instead he only received a sentimental letter, in which he implored for means to bo granted him to see his mother. This settled his doom, and the statement of the case sent down to Mont-sous-Vaudrcy by the Pardons Committee of the Ministry of Justice was returned without anything being written on the margin by M. Gre"vy. The order for the execution was given ye&terday at eleven o'clock by the Procurator of the Republic, and delivered at the residence of M. Peibler, the public executioner, by a mounted municipal guard at three o'clock. The presence of the orderly in tho low street in which he livea enabled the whole neighbourhood, and before night all tho scum of Park, to know that the event was to come off this morning. M. Deibler at once set off to look for his assistants, and when ho found them, he and they went to the place whci'e the guillotine is kept to put it in working order. At eleven o'clock they were in the thick of their gruesome task. The shed where they were at work is in the Rue dcs Folies Regnault. A couplo of vans were outf-ide tho door. One bore a long basket of coarse unpeeled osier lined with zinc, a pail, sponges, a mop, broom, and a packet of carbonate of soda. The basket was to serve as a coffin to the headless trunk. It was half filled with sawdust. On the Place de La Roquotte the crowd was by midnight enormous, but not by any means exclusively raffish, though there was a vast gathering of rascaldom. From one o'clock the police, the mounted gendarmes,
and the municipal foot guards pressed back the throng to the neighbouring streets, whore they could neither see nor hear. Not even was a black Hag run up to show that the supreme atc»3ment was consummated. There was an inner circle of some 1,500 card - bearers admitted. These people were pushed on" a distance of five yards from the guillotine, and there was an innermost ring, numbering 900 people, connected, however remotely, with the Pirns or the Government. As the piison clock struck three the executioner-} two red vans, escorted by the police, camo up at a foot paco. They almost silently passed to that spot opposite the entrance way to the prison where marks have been set in tho stone pavement where tho guillotine should stand. The scaffold is not so much erected as laid down upon the ground, the sleepers being bolted together, and the two grooved uprights are placed in position and sciewed home. The knife with its pulley and gear is placed between the two giooves. The upper ends of the uprights are joined by a top piece provided with a spring knife. The knife consists of a bias blade, the top loaded with lead. This tho executioner, according to long-standing custom, pulled up and let down twice, after which he pulled it up and left it there.
The Execution. As daylight drew on, the excitement increased. The details of the grim instrument were becoming clear. People wondered what where Pranzini's thoughts nt that moment, and how he bore himself. We were nob made to wait long. Afc about ihe the inner gates were seen to turn on their hinges and close a»ain. Theic was a pause. Was Pranzini making some revelation ? No. The outer gates opened noiselessly, and Pranzini issued. All of a sudden everybody was silent and hats were raised as on the passage of a, funeral, and the gendarmes who were to escort the body drew their swords. Pranzini did not falter for a moment. He cabt a few glances at the people on cither side of him, and in the meanwhile he riveted his eyes on the guillotine, to which he \\ alked with perfectly erect carriage. Although his hands weie lied behind his back and his legs were fettered, he advanced with a firm step, and when he was Mupported by tho assistants he begged them to demist. Whatever ho may have felt, ho kept a smiling countenance as if ho enjoyed having bafllcd society in its attempt to find out about his past life The scene was so awful and so impressive that nobody who was not a looker on can form a notion of its terror. The closing phases of the drama hardly lasted more than a minute, but nerve-, were wrought up to such a. pitch of sensitiveness that seconds seemed as minutes. When Pranzini came to a standstill before tho scaffold he seemed to givo way but for an instant, and he turned back his head to the chaplain, whom he had previously refused not only to confess to, but to enter into conversation -with. The priest thereupon took this opportunity to oiler his ministrations, and put forward a crucifix, which Pianzini kissed. The last expression of his face was neither deiiant nor craven, but one apparently of vanity, rendered ghastly by the consciousness of his impending death. The executioner's .assistants had now a tight grip on him. He then leaned forward on the tilt frame, which was immediately turned horizontally, and pushed towaids the knife. His head was made fast, and ho was left for ten seconds in a state of terror almost too great to bear. The public cried out "Shame." M. Deibler pulled the latch, and the blade swiftly did its work. The body wa>> rolled into the oblong basket filled with sawdust. The head was pulled out of a trong-h anH thrown into the same. These remains were placed in tho van and taken under escort to Ivry Cemetery for a pretended interment. They were afterwards sent to dissecting rooms. Meanwhile the guillotine was being washed, and ruddy water lay upon the pavement as we turned away from this ghastly scene.
"I Die Innocent' 1 Tho Governor of La Roqucttc thus officially describes Pranzini's last moments :—: — After having required Deibler, tho executioner, to sign a receipt for the delivery of the convict we went to cell No. 2A\ith*the persons above-named. Pranzini, who was fast asleep, was awakened by a warder. Then M. Beauquesne told him of theiejection of the appeal made for him to the mercy of the President of the Republic, and said, " You are a man of courage. This is now the time to prove it." He answered, "Yes, &ir," and added, "They have not even had the humanity to let me see my mother. It was all I wanted. I know that lam going to die innocent." As his gaolers dressed him ho said, " I thank you." He spoko to the same effect to the man who drew on his socks. On being asked by M. Beauquesne whether he would like to have some private conversation with the chaplain, he replied, " No, thank yon. Let him attend to hte own duty, and I will do mine." They then said, "Pranzini, get up and come along." A warder then went to help him up. He said, " Don't fear. I shan't try to get away from you." When he got to tho dressing' room, whither he hastened, and as Deibler and his assisstants were fottering his hands and arms, he said, "I only wished for one thing. A commutation of thirty days. It was that I asked of the President. He refused." Then Pranzini added, " God is great. After all it is better to die at once than to bo commuted and drag on life at the galleys.'' He tried to catch the eye of the Director of Public Safety. When he caught it he thus spoko to him, " I say, M. Taylor, don't try to hide yourself that' way. You got together wicnesses against me who were false ones. Cursed be ." He did not finish the sentence. After a pause he said, " I die innocent. All's over. May God remain with me." When the " toilette " was ended the cortege set out for the guillotine. Pranzini refused to be helped to the scaffold, and said to the executioner's assistants "Let me alone." He repulsed the Abbe" Faure, kiss ing, however, the crucifix which the chaplain held before him as he preceded him walking backward to the scaffold. At two minutes past five ho was beheaded. According to law the guillotine can only operate just as tho sun rises. The sun got up to-day at two minutes past five, and so precisely*a,t th.ab moment a sign was made to Deibler to pull the string which lets the heavily-weighted triangular knife descend. Deibler is a little commonplace prosylooking grey-whiskered man, and might pass for a process-serving limb of the law, were it not that he halts in walking. The assistants were coarse, heavy faced fellows dressed in long overall blouses like those worn in shambles. The instant the head had fallen Deibler disappeared. A reaction usually follows execu tions. Pity for tho executed man is so great that tho headsman would risk being guillotined if he did not get away into "the prison. Whon the usual form of burial was gone through, Pranzini's head was given to Dr. Remy, of tho Faculty of Medicine, who by means of the Faraday galvanic process excited the nervos. Before tho experiments took 7i>laee a cast was taken. Tho weight of tho brain was 1,200 grammes.