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Burbage
Burbage
288

fifth daughter, named Julia, was baptised, and 6 Nov. 1616 a son William. In 1605 Burbage was made by his fellow-actor Augustine Phillipps an overseer of his will. On 29 June 1613 he met with a serious misfortune. The Globe Theatre was burnt down during the performance of ‘All is True,’ assumed to be identical with Shakespeare's ‘Henry VIII.’ Burbage was fortunate in escaping with his life. In a ‘Sonnet on the Pitiful Burning of the Globe Playhouse in London’ occur the lines:—

Some lost their hattes and some their swordes,
Then out runne Burbidge too.

The theatre was rebuilt the next year. (The sonnet is printed by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, from a manuscript of the seventeenth century, in the library of Sir Matthew Wilson, bart., of Eshton Hall, Yorkshire.) Burbage died, according to the registers of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on 13 March 1618–1619. Camden gives the date as 9 March, and calls Burbage ‘alter Roscius.’ He was buried at St. Leonard's on 16 March. After his death his wife gave birth to another daughter, Sara, who died in April 1625. A warrant was issued (according to a quite authentic statement of Mr. J. P. Collier), under date 27 March 1618–19, authorising him to play at the Blackfriars and the Globe at all times when the deaths in London by ‘the infection of the plague’ did not exceed forty a week. His name stands second on the list of the players; John Hemming's stands first. Up to the time of his death Burbage resided at his father's house in Holywell Street, Shoreditch. A nuncupative will left Burbage's widow his sole executrix, but no details are given as to his property. Chamberlain, the letter writer, states that Burbage ‘left, they say, better than 300l. land.’ In a petition addressed by his wife and son William to the lord chamberlain in 1635, relative to their share in the Blackfriars and Globe playhouses, they speak of Richard Burbage as ‘one who for thirty-five yeeres' paines, cost, and labour, made meanes to leave his wife and children some estate,’ which implies that he died a rich man.

Many poems were written to Burbage's memory. The briefest epitaph written on him, or on any other man, was ‘Exit Burbadge,’ which found its way into Camden's ‘Remains’ (1674, p. 541), and is entered in a contemporary manuscript in Ashmol. MS. No. 38, fol. 190. Another tribute in verse, quoted by Malone and J. P. Collier from Sloane MS. 1786, developes the idea, and entitles Burbage ‘the best tragedian ever play'd.’ But the most interesting of the poems to his memory is ‘A Funeral Elegy on the Death of the famous Actor, Richard Burbadge,’ which extends in authentic versions to about eighty-six rhymed lines. Here reference is made to his success as an actor in the plays of Shakespeare named above. The lament grows somewhat bombastic towards the close, but the writer was evidently a sincere admirer of ‘England's great Roscius.’ The line, ‘[Death] first made seizure on thy wondrous tongue,’ has been assumed to imply that Burbage died of paralysis; Chalmers suggested on ill-supported grounds that he died of the plague. (Five transcripts of this elegy of the seventeenth century are extant: one at Warwick Castle, two at Thirlestane House, and two, formerly in the possession of Haslewood, and printed by him in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for 1824, in Mr. Huth's library.) Mr. J. P. Collier has printed a version above 120 lines long, but no early manuscript containing the added lines has been found. In this form the elegy assigns the following additional parts to Burbage: Edward (whether in ‘Edward III’ or Marlowe's ‘Edward II’ is doubtful), of Vendice in Tourneur's ‘Revenger's Tragedy,’ of Antonio in Marston's ‘Antonio and Mellida,’ of Brachiano in Webster's ‘White Devil,’ of Frankford in Heywood's ‘Woman killed with Kindness,’ and of Philaster in Beaumont and Fletcher's tragedy. Mr. F. G. Fleay points out that all these plays belonged to the inferior companies of the time. Thomas Middleton is the only dramatist who is known to have honoured the actor with an epitaph. His two couplets were first printed from a manuscript in the Heber collection in Collier's ‘New Facts,’ p. 26 (see Middleton's Works, ed. A. H. Bullen, vii. 413). Mr. J. P. Collier has also printed from a manuscript two stanzas, ‘De Burbagio et Regina,’ in which the fact that Queen Anne died on the same day as the actor is turned to account. Sir Richard Baker [q. v.], writing thirty years after Burbage's death, says that Burbage and Alleyn were ‘two such actors that no age must ever look to see the like’ (Chronicle), and in his ‘Theatrum Redivivum,’ published posthumously in 1662, Baker commends Burbage's freedom from ‘scurrility.’

Burbage, besides being an eminent actor, was a successful painter in oil-colours. Overbury says in the ‘character’ referred to above: ‘He is much affected to painting, and 'tis a question whether that makes him an excellent player or his playing an excellent painter.’ Middleton's epitaph bears the heading, ‘On the Death of that great master in his art and quality, painting and playing, R. Burbage.’ The Warwick Castle manuscript of the elegy is entitled, ‘On Mr. Richard Bur