Barry was not just harsh on Rochester it seems from The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Frazer.I shall here copy the whole passage because it shows her character I think.
Mrs Barry herself, angel painted fair on stage as she might be, was the focus of so many 'ill stories' off it, which if only half of them were true, more than justified the opposing cynical view of the female sex. Mrs Barry was dissolute('She had been a Rioter in her time), wrote Gildon): that in itself was not unusual. She was bad tempered and at times even violent.Although her good breeding - more or less - was said to make her on stage'Mistress of that Behaviour which sets off the well bred Gentlewoman', Mrs Barry was capable of exhibiting quite another side to her character, stage or no stage. In a famous incident, Mrs Barry and 'Chestnut maned (Betty) Boutel', acting in Lee's The Rival Queens. quarrelled over a scarf as the play was about to begin. On the all too appropriate line
"Die,sorceress, die and all my wrongs die with thee"
Mrs Barry as Roxana struck Mrs Boutel playing the rival queeen Statira with such force the blunted stage dagger managed to penetrate Mrs Boutel's stays ,and peirce the flesh beneath.
Furthermore Mrs Barry was mercenary. Where her professional life was concerned, that was understandable, in view of the low saleries paid to actresses at the time:for example, she insisted on recieving the proceeds of a benefit at the theatre, hithero generally reserved for writers. But she was also mercenary where her affections were concerned, to an extent that amazed even this worldly age. It was not so much the settlement she was supposed to have secured from playwright Sire George Etherage(Mrs Barry could see for herself what ahppened to the unendowed actress), but Tom Brown wrote:'Should you lie with her all night, she would not know you next morning, unless you had another five pounds at your service.' The lampoons which blasted athe private lives of all the famous actresses and coutesans of the time showed in later years a particular bitterness towards the 'slattern betty Barry'.
At thirty eight a very hopeful whore
The only one o'th trade thats' not profuse,
(A policy was taught her by the Jews),
though' still the highest bidder she will choose
At the same time it had to be admitted that Mrs Barry was one whom 'every fop upon the stage admires.' It was as though her defiant combination of talent and calculation was especially exacerbating.
the book goes on to talk about Thomas Otway the playwright and his besotted unrequited love for her and that she would not even give him a kiss and was fobbed off 'with gross thick, homespun friendship, the common Coin that passes betwixt Worldly intersts'. He also adressed a series of agonized letters to his beloved to no avail and was bitter in the knowledge that Rochester had succeeded where he had failed.
Frazer goes on after talking of Rochester but nothing we don't know already.
Doubtless Mrs barry did show lack of discretion in her way of life. Yest her legendary rapacity and even her coldness and severity towards her admirers are at least explicable when one bears in mind the alternative: the wretched downfall experienced by an actress like Elizabeth Farley. Famous as Mrs Barry was, she had no alternative but to give birth to a child in poverty, without support from husband or lover, and only the help of a 'protectoress'; (rumoured to heve been Nell Gwynn ,GG)that was the predictable fate of an actress who became pregnant. A little rapacity may be pardoned under the circumstances.