Ellipses of superlative inflection in conjunctional sentencesEllipsis of Superlative Inflection.
“Only the grave and wisest of the land.” HEYWOOD (Walker). “The soft and sweetest music.” B. J. (Ib.). “The vain and haughtiest minds the sun e'er saw.” GOFFE (Ib.).
“The generous and gravest citizens.
“To mark the full-fraught man and best endued.
The est of the second adjective modifies the first. Reversely we have--
“The humble as the proudest sail doth bear.
where "best" modifies the second adjective. “Call me the horrid'st and unhallow'd thing
“The best condition'd and unwearied spirit,
That life and nature tremble at.” MIDDLETON (Walker). In
though the meaning may be "the plainest, (the most) harmless creature," it is more likely a compound word, "plainest-harmless" (see 2).
“I took him for the plainest harmless creature,