Text: Nathaniel P. Willis to Edgar Allan Poe — May 26 or later, 1846


9 Park Place.

My Dear Poe, —

I need not say that I would gladly do that, or anything else to serve you, but it would be put down at once to quid-pro-quosity, & therefore bad taste.

Why reply directly to Mr. Briggs? If you want a shuttlecock squib to fall on the ground, never battledore it straight back. Mr. B’s attacks on me; never saw, & never shall see. I keep a good-sense-ometer who reads the papers & tells me if there is anything worth replying to, but nothing is that is written by a man who will be honor’d by the reply. A reply from me to Mr. Briggs would make the man. So will yours, if you exalt him into your mate by contending on equal terms. If you care to punish him, attack him on some other subject, & at an anonymous writer whose name is not worth giving. Notoriety is glory in this transition state of our half-bak’d country. But come & see me, & we’ll talk it over.

Yours in haste but very sincerely
N. P. Willis.



This letter is undated. Ostrom presumed it to be 1845 based on the reference to C. F. Briggs, with whom Poe feuded over control of the Broadway Journal in 1845. James B. Reece, however, in his disseration on Poe and the New York Literati (1954), makes a better case for dating the letter as May 26, 1846, thinking that Willis refers to Brigg’s May 26, 1846 article in the Evening Mirror, attacking Poe’s “Literati” series. Brigg’s article was reprinted in the Weekly Mirror of May 30, 1846.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - N. P. Willis to Poe (RCL632b)