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Dionysius St. (the Areopagite), Feasts
Diodorus of Sicily, and Herodotus 396 Fever
463 Good The Sovereign Good--
Gourd or Calabash
Grave Gravity -
99 Jo 32 34
MEMOIRS OF VOLTAIR E.
François Marie A Rover, who by assuming the name of Voltaire has rendered it so famous, was born at Chatenay, on the 20th of February, 1694, and was baptised at Paris, in the church of St. André-des-Arcs, on the 22nd of November in he same year. His excessive weakness was the cause of this delay, which, during life occasioned doubts concerning the place and time of his birth.
The father of M. de Voltaire exercised the office of treasurer to the Chamber of Accounts; his mother, Marguerite d'Aumart, was of a noble family of Poitou. Their son has been reproached for having taken the name of Voltaire ; that is, for having followed a custom at that time generally practised by the rich citizens and younger sons, who, leaving the family name to the heir, assumed that of a fief, or perhaps of a country house. His birth was questioned in numerous libels. His demies, among men of literature, seemed to fear that the fashionable world would too readily sacrifice its prejudices to the pleasure found in his society, and the admiration his talents inspired, and that a man of letters should be treated with too much equality. Such reproaches did him honour; malignity does not attack the birth of a man of literature, but from a secret consciousness, which it cannot stifle, that is wholly unable to diminish his personal fame.
The fortune which M. Arouet, the father enjoyed, was doubly advantageous to his son; it procured him the advantages of education, without which genius never attains those heights to which it might otherwise arise Nor was the advantage of being born to an independent fortune less inestimable. M. de Voltaire never felt the misery of being obliged to abandon his liberty that he might procure subsistence; to subject his genius to labour, which the necessity of living enforced ; nor to flatter the prejudices, or the passions, of a patron.
The young Arouet was sent to the Jesuits' College, where the sons of the first nobility, except those of the Jansenists, received their education. The professors of rhetoric, under whom he was placed, were Father Porée and Father Jay: the first, being a man of understanding, and of a good heart, discovered the seeds of a future greatness in his scholar; and the latter, struck with the boldness of his opinions and the independence of his mind, predicted that he would become the apostle of deism in France : both of which prophecies were verified by time.
When he left college, he again found the Abbé de Chateauneuf, his godfather and the friend of his mother, an intimate at home. The Abbé was intimate with Ninon de l'Enclos, whom, for her probity, her understanding, and her freedom of thought, he long had pardoned in despite of the somewhat notorious adventures of her youth. The fashionable world were pleased that she had refused the invitation of her former friend, Madame de Maintenon, who had offered to invite her to court, on condition that she would become a devotee. The abbé de Châteauneuf had presented Voltaire to Ninon. Though but a boy, he already was a poet ; already began to tease bis Jansenist brother by his trifling epigrams, and to please himself with reciting the “Moïsade" of Rousseau,
Ninon had taken delight in the pupil of her friend, and had left him by will two thousand livres (about eighty guineas) to purchase books. Thus was he taught by fortunate circumstances, even in infancy, and before his understanding was formed, to regard study and labours of the mind as pleasing and honourable employments.
The Abbé de Châteauneuf also introduced the young Voltaire to these societies, and particularly to the company of the Duke of Sully, the Marquis de la Fare, the Abbé Servien, the Abbé de Chaulieu, and the Abbé Courtin; who were often joined by the Prince de Conti, and the Grand Prior de Vendôme.
M. Arouet imagined his son was ruined, when he was told that he wrote poetry and frequented the society of people of fashion. He wished to make him a judge, and saw him employed on a tragedy. This family quarrel ended by sending ihe young Voltaire to the Marquis de Châteauneuf, the French ambassador in Holland.
His exile was not of long duration. Madame du Noyer, who had fled thither with her two daughters, rather to avoid her husband than from zeal for the Protestant religion, was then at the Hague, where she lived by intrigues and libels, and proved from her conduct that she did not go thither in search of liberty of conscience.
M. de Voltaire became enamoured of one of her daughters; and the mother, finding that the only advantage she could gain from his attachment was that of making it public, carried her complaints to the ambassador, who forbade bis young dependent to continue his visits to Mademoiselle du Noyer; and sent him back to his family for having disobeyed his orders.
Madame du Noyer failed not to print this story with the letters of the young Arouet to her daughter, hoping that this already well-known name would promote the sale of her book; and vaunted of her maternal severity and delicacy in the very libel in whicn she proclaimed her daughter's dishonour.
The youth, when returned to Paris, soon forgot his love; but he had afterwards the good fortune to be of service to Mademoiselle du Noyer, when she had married the Baron de Vinterfeld.
His father, however, finding him persist in writing poetry, and living at large, forbade him his house. The most submissive letters made no impression on him ; the son even asked permission to go to America, provided that before his departure he might be permitted to kneel at his feet ; but there was no choice; he must determine not to depart for America, but to bind himself to an attorney. He did not here remain long; M. de Caumartin, the friend of M. Arouet, pitied the fate of his son, and requested permission to take him to St. Ange; where, removed from those societies which alarmed paternal affection, he might reflect on, and make choice of a profession. Here he met with Caumartin, the elder, a respectable old man, who was passionately fond of Henry IV., and Sully, at that time too much