During the confinement of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, by the Jacobins of Paris, she was deprived of the use of the cosmetics with which she was wont to give the raven hue to her naturally silvery locks ; and history, in describing her execution, represents her hair as changing from a jet black to gray color through the mental anguish she experienced. The assassin Orsini, lately executed in Paris for attempting the life of the French Emperor, and ruthlessly murdering twelve innocent persons, presented the same apparently strange anomaly from the same cause. When Orsini was arrested, his luxuriant locks were as black as night, but when guillotined, they were of an iron gray color, simply because he either neglected his toilet, or else was deprived of tne usual hair dye he previously employed to give them their black color. His friends, and the papers generally, attribute the change to another cause, of course, and we have no doubt that history will represent the effect as being produced by the mental activity and agony he experienced during his incarceration.
This article was originally published with the title "The Uncertainties of History" in Scientific American 13, 36, 281 (May 1858)