There were many of this class in Paris who had hitherto watched the progress of the Revolution with a full reliance in the panacea it was to afford for human woes; many who had sympathized with the early demands of the Tiers Etat; who had rapturously applauded the Tennis Court oath; who had taken an enthusiastic part in the fete of the Champ de Mars; men who had taught themselves to believe that sin, and avarice, and selfishness were about to be banished from the world by the lights of philosophy; but whom the rancour of the Jacobins, and the furious licence of the city authorities had now robbed of their golden hopes. The dethronement of the King, totally severed many such from the revolutionary party. They found that their high aspirations had been in vain; that their trust in reason had been misplaced, and that the experiment to which they had committed themselves had failed; disgusted, broken-spirited, and betrayed they left the city in crowds, and with few exceptions, the intellectual circles were broken up.
A few of the immediate friends of the King, a few ladies and gentlemen, warmly devoted to the family of Louis XVI, remained in Paris. At the time when the King was first subjected to actual personal restraint, a few young noblemen and gentlemen had formed themselves into a private club, and held their sittings in the Rue Vivienne. Their object was to assist the King in the difficulties with which he was surrounded, and their immediate aim was to withdraw him from the metropolis; Louis’ own oft-repeated indecision alone prevented them from being successful. These royalists were chiefly from the province of Poitou, and as their meetings gradually became known and talked of in Paris, they were called the Poitevins.
They had among them one or two members of the Assembly, but the club chiefly consisted of young noblemen attached to the Court, or of officers in the body-guard of the King; their object, at first, had been to maintain, undiminished, the power of the throne; but they had long since forgotten their solicitude for the King’s power, in their anxiety for his safety and personal freedom.
The storming of the Tuilleries, and the imprisonment of Louis, completely destroyed their body as a club; but the energy of each separate member was raised to the highest pitch. The Poitevins no longer met in the Rue Vivienne, but they separated with a determination on the part of each individual royalist to use every effort to replace the King.
There were three young men in this club, who were destined to play a conspicuous part in the great effort about to be made, in a portion of France, for the restitution of the monarchy; their fathers had lived within a few miles of each other, and though of different ages, and very different dispositions, they had come to Paris together since the commencement of the revolution.