His full name was Jean Frangois Marie A rouet de Voltaire. This French philosopher, historian, dramatist, and man of letters adopted the name of Franois Marie Arouet de Voltaire though only the first words were his by baptism, the father, a notary, being Franois Arouet. Whence the name of Voltaire was derived has been the cause of many perplexing speculations. One of the most famous of French writers, he was born at Chtenay, near Sceaux, November 21, 1694. His early life was loose and varied.
In 1728 he became infatuated with a Madame du Chatelet his literary works cover some ninety volumes. In 1743, the French government despatched him on a mission to Frederick the Great, by whom he was held in high favor, and in 1750, at the request of the King, he made his residence in Berlin, but five years later they quarreled, and Voltaire moved to Ferney, Switzerland. His literary talent was most varied, and in invective he had no equal. During his exile in England he imbibed deistical theories, which marked his life. He was charged with atheism. Voltaire was easily misunderstood. While he attacked the fashionable atheism of his time, as well as Christianity, his real fight, broadly slashing as it was, and never any too courteously outlined or defined, was probably against all persecution and oppression by any and all pampered orthodoxy. He was initiated in the Lodge of the Nine Sisters, at Paris, April 7, 1778.
Benjamin Franklin and others distinguished in Freemasonry were members of this famous Lodge. Franklin at the time of Voltaire's initiation was a visitor only but subsequently became Worshipful master of the Lodge (see Nine Sisters, Lodge of the). Voltaire's death, on May 30, 1778, gave rise to a memorable Lodge of Sorrow, which was held on the succeeding November 28.
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