Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Urban, here are no less than nine passages produced from our liturgy, wherein the word which is applied to per, : sons, and occurs for who, and may not one justly wonder how any one pretending to be so nice and delicate, as the gentleman above-mentioned, could possibly overlook them? There are probably other places of the same kind, but these he reads often, and it is really a matter of surprise, that all of them should always have escaped his notice, particularly that they should have done so, since he has entertained his scruple about the justness and purity of such expressions.

A third argument for the purity of this word in this acceptation, i deduce from the Latin relative qui, which is applied both to persons and things, just as our which is, and as il quale and le quel are in the Italian and French.

But what prevails most with me is, that I have observed our ancient authors using which, of persons, as well as things, I will here cite a few examples from some of our oldest writers.

A manciple there was of the temple,
Of which all catours might take ensample,
For to ben wise in buying of vitaile.

Chaucer, p. 5. Edit. Urry.
He geveth his graces undeserved,
And fro that man whiche hath him served,
Full ofte he taketh awey his fees,
As he that plaieth at the dies.

Gower Confess. Amant. fol. 7. b.
The morowe was made the maydens bridalle,
And there might thou wit if thou wilt, which they ben al
That longen to that lordship.

Pierce Plowman, fol. viii. b. That was gessid the sone of Joseph, which was of Helie, which was of Matath, which was of Levy, &c.

Wickliffe's N. Testam. Luc. iii. See also Archbishop Cranmer's Bible there; Queen Elizabeth's Bible, and our present translation, both there, and Rev. 1. but more particularly John xvii. a chapter read four times in the year, and therefore the more strange it

[ocr errors]

should pass unnoticed) where which for who occurs no less than seven times.

These, Mr. Urban, may be thought authorities sufficient for the usage of any word; and I dare say that upon occasion they might be doubled and trebled; but I rather chuse to enter now a little into the reason of the thing, where I would observe, that I do not take this word which, when aplied to persons, to be so purely a relative as who is, but rather to be an elliptical way of speaking. For example, the words, Luke iii. 23. being the son of Joseph, which was the son

of Heli, I conceive may be filled up thus, being the son of Joseph, which Joseph was the son of Heli; in which case you cannot with any tolerable propriety substitute who in the place of which. So in the prayer Our father which art in heaven, the full locution would be Our father, which father art in heaven. And in Tom Hearne's pref. to the Antiquities of Glastonbury, p. xc. you have which Walter in a like case. And hence, as I conjecture, arose the expression the which; for this, when it is used of a person, as I suppose it is some- . times, manifestly is demonstrative, and requires a supply of the preceding proper name, whatever it be ; and in that case again you cannot change which for who, for we never say

the who. The which is unquestionably good English, as might be easily shewn, were it needful, and yet some people have been willing to except against it, and, in particular, I remember to have seen it somewhere objected, as obsolete and incorrect, to Mr. Tindall the translator of Rapin. But there are other cases, where, as it should seem, who or whom cannot well be put for which, as 2 Kings ix, 5. Unto which of all us? and Luke xiv. 5. which of you, &c. In this last place, whatever may be thought of the former, it would sound very harsh, I am certain to an English ear, to hear it read who of you? But then though the terms of who and which are not always convertible, yet this hinders not but that in most cases they may be used the one for the other, and consequently that whosoerer should chuse to say Our father which ürt in heaven, will no more offend against propriety, and the genius of the English idiom, than he that would rather write, Our father who art in heaven, and consequently that there is no occasion for an alteration, nor any reason in the world why a reader should depart from the common form.

I am, yours, &c. Chesterfield, July 18, 1754.

G. P.

MR. URBAN, PERHAPS what I am going to say may seem but a very small matter to some of your readers; but since it relates to the idiom of our language, and some of the most learned of the Romans could debate it, as we find they did from A. Gellius X. 1. whether it were right to say tertiumne consul et quartun, un tertio et quarto; others perhaps may think differently of it. Besides, it is concerning the public liturgy of our church, where every causeless innovation ought, in my opinion, to be prevented as much as possible. In short, Sir, since I undertook the defence of the diction in the adó dress of the Lord's Prayer, I have been informed, that there are those who in one of the petitions very commonly will say on tarih as it is in heaven, intimating that it is not so proper to say in earth. But surely this is very needless and hypercritical; for, the preposition in, both in Latin and English, is as polysemous, that is, of as various an import as most words in either language; it denotes, within, by, for the sake of, &c. and amongst its other significations, it is very commonly used for on or upon, and consequently these two particles in and on are frequently counterchanged in common speech. For example, you may either say I met him on the road, or in the road; the down in a peach, or the down on a peach; in the seventh day thou shali do no manner of work, or on the seventh day. See the fourth commandment, and Exodus sxxi. In some places it is said to write upon tubles, as Exod. xxxii. 16. and yet you have it 2 Cor. iii. 3. Iritten not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heurt. In Exod. xvi. 26. both forms occur together, But on the seventh duy, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And so again, Gen. Ü. 2. He rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made, and God blessed the seventh day and sanciijied it, because that in it he had rested from all his work. From all which one may reasonably infer, that in the present case it is equally proper to say in earth, as on carth. but this I shall more directly evince: it was noted in a former paper that the three translations of the Bible there quoted, were made by different hands, and yet all of them, both Matthew vi. and Luke xi. have in eurih; and to them I beg leave to add Dr. Wicliffe in Matthew. In this our liturgy it is said, Let us pray for the wh le state of Christ's Church militant here in carth. And so Ps. CXXIV. 6. Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did hein heaven, and in earth. And Matthew xxviii, 18. All pouer is given unto ine in heaven and in earth; where

[ocr errors]

see again old Wicliffe, Archbishop Cranmer's Bible, and the version in use Tempore Elizab. regina, and in the communion office, Glory be to God on high, anid in earth peace. Wherefore I shall only cite one passage more, namely, the second commandment, The likeness of any thing thut is in heuven above, or in the earth beneath. In the Anglo Saxon, which is the matrix of our language, on signifies in, as appears, to go no farther, from the coins where DORR ON EOFERPIC is Thorr in York. See Mr. Thoresby's Musæum, p. 348, et alibi. This now shews, a priori, how in came to be used for on; that it is no solecism, but arises from the very genius of our tongue.

Yours, &c.

PAUL GEMSEGE. Mr. URBAN, YOUR correspondent who favoured you with the criticism on the first clause of the Lord's Prayer, seems through the whole of it, never to have taken the Greek original into consideration. The question is not, whether the present translation be grammatical or not, or whether which may supply the place of who, but whether either of them be necessary. In the original it is not the relative that is used, but the prepositive article è, which indeed sometimes stands as a relative, but here seems to be put causa discretionis, and may very justly be translated that, as meant in distinetion to our father on earth. As if it implied; not this father on earth, but that in heaven, is properly your father, for he it was that created you, and it is he that daily supports and preserves you, therefore small is your loss in losing your earthly father; you are not thereby orphans, if you do not by your wickedness forfeit the favour of your heavenly father, for, if so, you would be orphans indeed. Many instances might be given where the prepositive article is translated that, but I shall mention one only, i Peter i. 21, Θεον τον εγείροντα God that raised. .

The criticism in your August Magazine likewise, would have been helped by the consideration of the Greek. There is no necessity to retain on, because it was anciently used for in, but it ought to remain upon its own account. The translation of sti tnsyns, is plainly, on, or upon the earth, not neglecting the particle the, which, in proper English, is always set before that word, except when it signifies soil or mold; for I think in these expressions, through all the earth, or round the earth, the particle the is necessary to make them English.

An expression or phrase being ancient, is not quite a sufficient reason to a modern, for its being proper, anless we are to prefer the ancient state of our language to the more modern and improved. Not but that I think there are a great many forms of expression in authors, in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James the First, that are masculine and nervous, and that it is a pity they should turn obsolete.

D-d, Sept. 24, 1754.

Mr. URBAN, A LEARNED Antiquarian in a late Magazine, chastises one of his neighbours for altering a word in the Lord's Prayer, and saying Our futher who art in heaven, instead of Our father which art in heaven.

This passage has occasioned several disputes; but what arguments have been advanced on each side of the question, I have at present neither time nor inclination to examine.

I must, however, observe, that your correspondent has by no means demonstrated the propriety of the word which; for though it may be used when we speak of a third person, and perhaps justified by supposing it “ an elliptical way of speaking,” yet when it is part of an invocation, we shall find it, I believe, a manifest impropriety.

For example, this sentence I will call repon the Lord, which is worihy to be praised-may be thus filled up-I will call upon the lord, which lord is worthy to be praised. But, suppose we alter the sentence, and say I will call upon thec, o lord, which lord art worthy to be praised the impropriety is apparent. Which lord can never be part of an in. yocation; the words evidently refer to a third person.

For the same reason when we address ourselves to God in the Lord's Prayer, we cannot consistently say, Our father, which father art in heaven; whereas, if we speak of him, we may with tolerable propriety say, Glorify your father, which father is in heaven,

Mr. P. I imagine, was not aware of this distinction when he wrote his remarks, for I da nat find one of his quotations

exactly corresponding to this in question."

He has taken great pains, indeed, to prove that which may be applied to persons, and in some cases I allow it may ; but then I must observe, that an indiscriminate use of who and which will tend to break through idiomatical precision, and confound our language with unnecessary variations. Whereas

« PreviousContinue »