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Barry, Lodowick (DNB00)


BARRY or BARREY, LODOWICK (17th cent.), dramatist, strangely miscalled by Anthony à Wood, and in the manuscript of Coxeter, Lord Barry, is known as the author of one comedy, ‘Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks,’ 4to, 1611 and 1636, which has been included in the second and subsequent editions of Dodsley's ‘Old Plays.’ Wood says it was acted by the Children of the King's Revels before 1611. The only performance of which any record exists took place at Drury Lane between 1719 and 1723, probably near the latter date. A manuscript cast which came into the possession of Genest assigns the principal characters to Wilks, Cibber, jun., Pinkethman, Mills, Mrs. Booth, and Mrs. Seal. ‘Ram Alley’ is a respectable comedy of its class, written in blank verse, lapsing at times into rhyme, and, though coarse in language, contains a fairly amusing and edifying plot. The credit of this piece was long assigned to Massinger. Barry, concerning whose origin nothing is known, except that he was of gentle birth and Irish extraction, is supposed to have died soon after the production of his play. The sole evidence in favour of this is that a promise made in his preface that if ‘Ram Alley’ met with public approval, he would ‘never cease his brain to toil’ until he had produced

Conceits so new, so harmless free,
That Puritans themselves may see,

is not known to have been kept. Langbaine says that an incident in the play subsequently used in Killigrew's ‘Parson's Wedding’ ‘is borrowed,’ as he supposes, ‘from the same author from whom Kirkman took the story,’ which is to be found in the ‘English Rogue,’ part iv. chap. 19. The editor of the latest edition of Dodsley misconstrues this statement into a positive charge of plagiarism from the ‘English Rogue,’ and assigns it to the ‘Biographia Dramatica,’ in which no more is said than that the same circumstance occurs in the plays of Barry and Killigrew and in the ‘English Rogue,’ and gratuitously characterises it as ‘a gross error.’

[Wood's Athen. Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 655; Langbaine's Dramatic Poets; Baker, Reed, and Jones's Biographia Dramatica; Compleat List of all the English Dramatic Poets, appended to Whincop; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Ward's English Dramatic Literature.]

J. K.