Bartley T. Campbell, journalist, novelist, poet, dramatist, and theatrical manager, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, August 12, 1843. His parents, Bartley and Mary (Eckles) Campbell, both emigrated to this country from Ireland in 1840. Young Bartley was educated in the public schools of his home town, but at a very early age, in 1856, he started to read law in an attorney's office in Pittsburg. The dry details of Coke and Littleton, however, soon turned him to journalism. He began as reporter for the Pittsburg Post, in 1858, but soon became dramatic critic and eventually part owner of the Pittsburg Leader. In 1868 he founded the Pittsburg Evening Mail, and in 1869 founded and edited the Southern Monthly Magazine at New Orleans. With the phenomenal success of his first melodrama, "Through Fire," which ran for four weeks in 1871, he dropped journalism entirely. His second play, "Peril; or, Love at Long Branch," was produced in 1872, and his third, "Fate," the following year. Plays now followed in rapid succession, only a few of which can be mentioned here. "Risks; or, Insure Your Life," appeared in 1873. It was written for John Dillon, who played the part of the leading character, an insurance agent. "The Virginian," written for R. M. Hooley, of Hooley's Theatre, Chicago, ran for three weeks and was then taken to England by Mr. Campbell, where it ran over a month in the St. James Theatre. In 1875 he took his company to San Francisco where he produced "The Big Bonanza," an adaptation of the German drama "Ultimo." It ran for four weeks at the Grand Opera House in San Francisco and netted a profit of $16,000. "My Partner," brought out in New York in 1879 at the Union Square Theatre, remained on the stage for years, and was played in London and Berlin. His last play "Paquita" was produced at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, which he had leased, in 1885. Owing to failing health and involvement in financial difficulties, he subleased it to Edward E. Rice. In the autumn a receiver was appointed to take care of his affairs. The following spring it was found that he was suffering from paresis, and he was removed to the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. On November 30, 1886, he was admitted to the State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown, N. Y., where he died July 30, 1888. Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit.(1) He was buried in Pittsburg.
Frances Wilson,(2) who was not overly modest about his own attainments, speaks of Campbell's egotism in having his letterhead adorned with busts of Shakespeare and himself, with the inscription "A friendly contest for supremacy" beneath.
"In the Web," "Out in the World," "Without Mercy," "The Red Queen," and "Julia's Peril," were written for the Saturday Star Journal and appeared between 1871 and 1873. They were later dramatized. "In the Web," reprinted under the title "The Gambler Guardian," was published under the pen name "Edwin South." It is identical with "The Girl Wife," published under his own name.
REFERENCES: T. Allston Brown, A History of the New York Stage from 1732 to 1901, New York, 1903; Nat. Cyc. Amer. Biog., IX, 1907, 517; Lamb's Biog. Dict., I, 554; Scribner's Dict. Amer. Biog., III, 1929, 450-51; A. H. Quinn, A History of the American Drama from the Civil War to the Present Day, I, 118—124; Lisle Lester, "The Dramatists of To-Day," Frank Leslie's Monthly, XVIII, 1884, 646-47, 652, with portrait; Saturday Journal, No. 504, November 8, 1879; Banner Weekly, No. 216, January 1, 1887; Ibid., No. 304, September 8, 1888; New York Weekly, XXXV, February 9, 1880, 4, with portrait.
Saturday Journal. Nos. 77, 95, 114, 156
Beadle's Weekly. No. 120
Banner Weekly. Nos. 562, 661, 693
Girls of Today. No. 20
Fireside Library. Nos. 3, 36, 40 (partim)
Waverley Library (quarto). Nos. 3, 15, 134, 140
Waverley Library (octavo). Nos. 2,7, 57, 61
The following novel appeared under Campbell's pseudonym "Edwin South."
Saturday Journal. No. 61
Banner Weekly. No. 618
SPECIMEN OF BARTLEY T. CAMPBELL'S STYLE
"The Girl Wife; or, The True and the False." Waverley Library, Pocket Edition, No. 2, 9. June 3, 1884.
"Bully!" broke in Turner. "Now matters are getting interesting. Do you know, Mangy, that this thing of doing a disinterested Christian act is pleasant now and then, by way of variety? It wouldn't do to follow as a regular business, you know."
"And why not?" asked Mangy, her eyes sparkling as she witnessed the enthusiasm of her friend.
"Why not?" ejaculated Turner. "Would you have us starve to death?"
"No, not a bit of it, and I'm almost ashamed to hear you say so, Brad Turner. There is such a thing as working for an honest living, is there not?"
"Working for a living?" repeated Brad, as if stunned by the thought. "You wouldn't; now come, Mangy, you wouldn't have a fellow come down to plain, hard work like a nigger? You can't mean that?"
"Yes, I do, and nothing else, although I can't see that work would make a nigger of you. Work is not ignoble if the laborer is not degraded already."
Bradley Turner gazed at the speaker in open-mouthed wonder, and when she had finished, he said, rather thoughtfully:
"Mangy Norman, you are just as far above me and that rascally old humbug, Norman, as the sun is above the earth, and you're just about that much brighter and better than either of us."
(Page 5, same story).
"Mas'r Mark, the gub'nor is waitin' breakfast. I'se sent up for you, sah."
"Tell the governor I'll be down in a jiffy, Mattie."
"In a what, sah?"
"Confound you, in a jiffy—in a moment. Don't you understand?"
"Yes, sah, in a jibby. May I, please Mas'r Mark, may I help you wid it?"
"Help me with what? Are you taking leave of your senses?"
"No, sah: I t'o't I might give some 'sistence down-sta'rs wid dat t'ing."
"What thing? Confound it; what are you talking about?"
"De jibby. I's mighty strong, Mas'r Mark."
The young man smiled, and said: "I guess I'll manage it myself, Mattie. You can go."
|1||Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi, 15.|
|2||Francis Wilson's Life of Himself, Boston, 1924, 54.|