At this time Voltaire was staying with Lord Bolingbroke. The letter alluded to is dated 'In my Lord Bolingbroke's house, Friday at noon, Nov. 16, 1726.' The tales told of Voltaire are taken from Ruffhead's Life of Pope, being contained in a foot-note to p. 213, ed. 1769.
Such an authority is not sufficient to give them any claim to credence, more particularly as the 'trick' alluded to is given by Ruffhead himself on the authority only of Pope's own unsupported testimony. The story is that Voltaire tried to elicit from Pope the name of the writer of the first of those 'Occasional Letters' which appeared at that date addressed to Walpole, and which were producing much stir at court. Pope, on promise of secrecy, claimed the authorship for himself, and declared that by the next day the news was all over the court. Ruffhead must have been possessed of great believing power to accept such a story of Voltaire. But most of the contemporary writing about Voltaire is utterly untrustworthy, being composed under the influence of strong theological bias.
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