'My Lord Clarendon has observed, That few Men have done more harm than those who have been thought to be able to do least; and there cannot be a greater Error, than to believe a Man whom we see qualified with too mean Parts to do good, to be therefore incapable of doing hurt. There is a Supply of Malice, of Pride, of Industry, and even of Folly, in the Weakest, when he sets his heart upon it, that makes a strange progress in Mischief.  What may seem to the Reader the greatest Paradox in the Reflection of the Historian, is, I suppose, that Folly, which is generally thought incapable of contriving or executing any Design, should be so formidable to those whom it exerts it self to molest. But this will appear very plain, if we remember that Solomon says, It is as Sport to a Fool to do mischief; and that he might the more emphatically express the calamitous Circumstances of him who falls under the displeasure of this wanton Person, the same Author adds further, That a Stone is heavy, and the Sand weighty, but a Fool's Wrath is heavier than them both. It is impossible to suppress my own Illustration upon this Matter, which is, That as the Man of Sagacity bestirs himself to distress his Enemy by Methods probable and reducible to Reason, so the same Reason will fortify his Enemy to elude these his regular Efforts; but your Fool projects, acts, and concludes with such notable Inconsistence, that no regular Course of Thought can evade or counterplot his prodigious Machinations. My Frontispiece, I believe, may be extended to imply, That several of our Misfortunes arise from Things, as well as Persons, that seem of very little consequence. Into what tragical Extravagancies does Shakespear hurry Othello upon the loss of an Handkerchief only? and what Barbarities does Desdemona suffer from a slight Inadvertency in regard to this fatal Trifle? If the Schemes of all enterprizing Spirits were to be carefully examined, some intervening Accident, not considerable enough to occasion any Debate upon, or give 'em any apprehension of ill Consequence from it, will be found to be the occasion of their ill Success, rather than any Error in Points of Moment and Difficulty, which naturally engag'd their maturest Deliberations. If you go to the Levee of any great Man, you will observe him exceeding gracious to several very insignificant Fellows; and this upon this Maxim, That the Neglect of any Person must arise from the mean Opinion you have of his Capacity to do you any Service or Prejudice; and that this calling his Sufficiency in question, must give him Inclination, and where this is, there never wants Strength or Opportunity to annoy you. There is no body so weak of Invention, that can't aggravate or make some little Stories to vilify his Enemy; and there are very few but have good Inclinations to hear 'em, and 'tis infinite Pleasure to the Majority of Mankind to level a Person superior to his Neighbours. Besides, in all matter of Controversy, that Party which has the greatest Abilities labours under this Prejudice, that he will certainly be supposed, upon Account of his Abilities, to have done an Injury, when perhaps he has received one. It would be tedious to enumerate the Strokes that Nations and particular Friends have suffer'd from Persons very contemptible.
I Think Henry IV. of France, so formidable to his Neighbours, could no more be secur'd against the resolute Villany of Ravillac, than Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, could be against that of Felton. And there is no incens'd Person so destitute, but can provide himself with a Knife or a Pistol, if he finds stomach to apply them. That Things and Persons of no moment should give such powerful Revolutions to the progress of those of the greatest, seems a providential Disposition to baffle and abate the Pride of human Sufficiency; as also to engage the Humanity and Benevolence of Superiors to all below 'em, by letting them into this Secret, that the Stronger depends upon the Weaker.
I am, SIR, Your very humble Servant.
'I received a Letter from you some time ago, which I should have answered sooner, had you informed me in yours to what part of this Island I might have directed my Impertinence; but having been let into the Knowledge of that Matter, this handsome Excuse is no longer serviceable. My Neighbour Prettyman shall be the Subject of this Letter; who falling in with the SPECTATOR'S Doctrine concerning the Month of May, began from that Season to dedicate himself to the Service of the Fair in the following Manner. I observed at the Beginning of the Month he bought him a new Night-gown, either side to be worn outwards, both equally gorgeous and attractive; but till the End of the Month I did not enter so fully into the knowledge of his Contrivance, as the Use of that Garment has since suggested to me. Now you must know that all new Clothes raise and warm the Bearer's Imagination into a Conceit of his being a much finer Gentleman than he was before, banishing all Sobriety and Reflection, and giving him up to Gallantry and Amour. Inflam'd therefore with this way of thinking, and full of the Spirit of the Month of May, did this merciless Youth resolve upon the Business of Captivating. At first he confin'd himself to his Room only, now and then appearing at his Window in his Night-gown, and practising that easy Posture which expresses the very Top and Dignity of Languishment. It was pleasant to see him diversify his Loveliness, sometimes obliging the Passengers only with a Side-Face, with a Book in his Hand; sometimes being so generous as to expose the whole in the fulness of its Beauty; at the other times, by a judicious throwing back of his Perriwig, he would throw in his Ears. You know he is that Sort of Person which the Mob call a handsome jolly Man; which Appearance can't miss of Captives in this part of the Town. Being emboldened by daily Success, he leaves his Room with a Resolution to extend his Conquests; and I have apprehended him in his Night-gown smiting in all Parts of this Neighbourhood.
This I, being of an amorous Complection, saw with Indignation, and had Thoughts of purchasing a Wig in these Parts; into which, being at a greater Distance from the Earth, I might have thrown a very liberal Mixture of white Horse-hair, which would make a fairer, and consequently a handsomer Appearance, while my Situation would secure me against any Discoveries. But the Passion to the handsome Gentleman seems to be so fixed to that part of the Building, that it will be extremely difficult to divert it to mine; so that I am resolved to stand boldly to the Complection of my own Eye-brow, and prepare me an immense Black Wig of the same sort of Structure with that of my Rival. Now, tho' by this I shall not, perhaps, lessen the number of the Admirers of his Complection, I shall have a fair Chance to divide the Passengers by the irresistible Force of mine.
I expect sudden Dispatches from you, with Advice of the Family you are in now, how to deport my self upon this so delicate a Conjuncture; with some comfortable Resolutions in favour of the handsome black Man against the handsome fair one.
_I am, SIR,
Your most humble Servant_,
N. B. He who writ this, is a black Man two Pair of Stairs; the Gentleman of whom he writes, is fair, and one Pair of Stairs.
'I only say, that it is impossible for me to say how much I am
P. S. 'I shall think it a little hard, if you do not take as much notice of this Epistle, as you have of the ingenious Mr. Short's. I am not afraid to let the World see which is the Deeper Man of the two.
[Footnote 1: When this was quoted Clarendon had been dead only 38 years, and his History of the Rebellion, first published in Queen Anne's reign, was almost a new Book. It was published at Oxford in three folio volumes, which appeared in the successive years 1702, 3,4, and in this year, 1712, there had appeared a new edition of it (the sixth).]
ADVERTISEMENT.Translation of motto:
London, September 15.
Whereas a young Woman on horseback,
in an Equestrian Habit on the 13th Instant in the Evening,
met the SPECTATOR within a Mile and an half of this Town,
and flying in the Face of Justice,
pull'd off her Hat, in which there was a Feather,
with the Mein and Air of a young Officer,
saying at the same time,
Your Servant Mr. SPEC. or Words to that Purpose;
This is to give Notice,
that if any Person can discover the Name,
and Place of Abode of the said Offender,
so as she can be brought to Justice,
the Informant shall have all fitting Encouragement.