Ben Jonson

"Bartholomew Fayre Act 2. Scene 1"

Justice Overdoo.

Well, in Justice name, and the Kings, and for the
Commonwealth! defie all the World, Adam
Overdoo,
for a disguise, and all story; for thou hast fitted
thy self I swear; fain would I meet the Linceus now,
that Eagles Eye, that piercing Epidaurian Serpent (as
my Quint. Horace calls him) that could discover a Ju-
stice of Peace, (and lately of the Quorum) under this
covering. They may have seen many a fool in the ha-
bit of a Justice; but never till now, a Justice in the ha-
bit of a fool. Thus must we do, though that wake for
the publick good: and thus hath the wise Magistrate
done in all Ages. There is a doing of right out of
wrong, if the way be found. Never shall I enough
commend a worthy worshipful Man, sometime a capi-
tal Member of this City, for his high wisdom in this
point, who would take you now the habit of a Porter,
now of a Carman, now of the Dog-killer, in this month
of August; and in the Winter, of a seller of Tinder-
boxes; and what would he do in all these shapes? mar-
ry, go you into every Alehouse, and down into every
Celler; measure the length of Puddings, take the gage
of Black-pots, and Cans, I, and Custards with a Stick;
and their circ*mference with a Thread; weigh the
Loaves of Bread on his middle-finger; then would he
send for 'em home; give the Puddings to the Poor, the
Bread for the Hungry, the Custards to his Children;
break the Pots, and burn the Cans himself; he would
not trust his corrupt Officers, he would do't himself.
Would all Men in Authority would follow this worthy
president. For (alas) as we are publick Persons, what
do we know? nay, what can we know? we hear with
other Mens Ears, we see with other Mens Eyes. A foo-
lish Constable, or a sleepy Watchman, is all our infor-
mation, he slanders a Gentleman, by the vertue of his
place, (as he calls it) and we by the vice of ours, must
believe him. As a while agone, they made me, yea me,
to mistake an honest zealous Pursivant, for a Seminary:
and a a proper young Batchellor of Musick, for a Bawd.
This we are subject to, that live in high place, all our
intelligence is idle, and most of our intelligencers
Knaves: and by your leave, our selves thought little
better, if not errant Fools for believing 'em. I Adam
Overdoo,
am resolv'd therefore, to spare spy-mony here-
after, and make mine own discoveries. Many are the
yearly enormities of this Fair, in whose Courts of Pye-
poulders
I have had the honour, during the three days,
sometimes to sit as Judge. But this is the special day for
detection of those foresaid enormities. Here is my
black Book for the purpose; this the Cloud that hides
me; under this Covert I shall see and not be seen. On
Junius Brutus. And as I began, so I'll end; in Ju-
stice name, and the Kings, and for the Common-
wealth.

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