Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/290

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Burbage
Burbage
284

was then doing all in his power to establish popery. To these ten posthumous works must be added: 55. ‘The Heavenly Footman,’ a discourse on 1 Cor. ix. 24, bought of Bunyan's eldest son, John, in 1691 by Charles Doe, and published by him in 1698. 56. The ‘Relation of his Imprisonment,’ which was not given to the world till 1765, a hundred years after it was written in Bedford gaol. Neither 57. ‘The Christian Dialogue,’ nor 58. ‘The Pocket Concordance,’ enumerated by Charles Doe, ‘though diligently sought,’ has been discovered. 59. The ‘Scriptural Poems,’ in which a far from unsuccessful attempt has been made to versify the histories of Joseph, Samson, Ruth, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Epistle of St. James, are regarded as spurious by Mr. Brown on the ground that they were unknown to Charles Doe and were not published till twelve years after Bunyan's death, and then by one Blare, who issued other certainly spurious works in Bunyan's name. The internal evidence he also regards as unfavourable to their genuiness: ‘There is but little to remind us of Bunyan's special verse.’ Mr. Froude's verdict on this point is altogether different: ‘The “Book of Ruth” and the “History of Joseph” done into blank verse are really beautiful idylls, which if we found in the collected works of a poet laureate we should consider that a difficult task had been accomplished successfully, and the original grace completely preserved.’

[Bunyan's Grace Abounding and Relation of his Imprisonment; Doe's The Struggler; Life and Actions of John Bunyan, 1692; Life of John Bunyan, 1700; Southey's Life of John Bunyan, 1830; Lord Macaulay's John Bunyan, a Biography, 1853; Offor's Life of John Bunyan, 1862; The Book of the Bunyan Festival, edited by W. H. Wylie, 1874; The Hero of Elstow, 1874; Clarendon Press Series, Bunyan, by Precentor Venables, 1879; English Men of Letters, Bunyan, by J. A. Froude, 1880; Copner's John Bunyan, a Memoir, 1883; Brown's John Bunyan, his Life, Times, and Work, 1885.]

E. V.


BURBAGE, JAMES (d. 1597), actor, and the first builder of a theatre in England, is often stated to have been a native of Stratford-on-Avon. A John Burbage was certainly bailiff of the town in 1556, and a family of the name was well known there throughout the sixteenth century. But when James's son Cuthbert applied for a grant of arms in 1634 he claimed to belong to a Hertfordshire family. The theory of the Stratford origin of the family has been chiefly maintained with a view to confirming the apocryphal story that Shakespeare and Richard Burbage [q. v.] were schoolfellows at Stratford grammar school. James Burbage originally followed the trade of a joiner, and is often so designated in documents relating to his later life. The earliest mention made of him is in a patent dated 7 May 1574, authorising the Earl of Leicester's players to act in every part of the kingdom. Burbage's name heads the list. It is probable that he took part in the festivities at Kenilworth on the occasion of the queen's visit there in 1575. Leicester's company of players had been in existence since 1559, and although their names are given in no earlier document than that of 1574, Burbage had probably then been a member of the company for many years. On 13 April 1576 Burbage obtained from one Giles Allen a twenty-one years' lease of houses and land situated between Finsbury Fields and the public road from Bishopsgate and Shoreditch. Before the summer of 1577 Burbage had erected on part of this site the first building in this country specially intended for theatrical performances. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps states that the building, which was of ‘wood and timber,’ stood a ‘little to the north of Holywell Lane, as nearly as possible on the site of what is now (1885) Dean’s Mews.’ It went by the name of ‘The Theatre,’ and the earliest reference made to it is in an order (dated 1 Aug. 1577) of the lords of the council forbidding the continuance of performances there until after Michaelmas, on account of the plague. Burbage erected a number of houses on part of the ground, but in the immediate neighbourhood of the theatre he left wide open spaces, and the building was usually reached by a path across Finsbury Fields. His son Cuthbert stated in 1635 that his father ‘was the first builder of play-howses and was himselfe in his younger yeeres a player. The Theater hee built with many hundred poundes taken up at interest’ (Halliwell-Phillipps, 406). The success of Burbage's enterprise was very great, and his profits were large from the first, although another theatre—the Curtain—was erected in his immediate neighbourhood very soon after The Theatre was opened. The puritan preachers warmly denounced the iniquities of these two play-houses for twenty years, and the corporation of London frequently petitioned the privy council to suppress them on the twofold ground that the crowds who assembled there were likely, in times of plague, to spread contagion, and that vicious characters made the theatres their daily haunts. On 28 July 1597 the council in reply to the lord mayor ordered the owners of The Theatre and the Curtain to ‘pluck down’ their houses. But the edict was not enforced.

In 1596 Burbage determined to extend his