PRONOUNS, PERSONAL. Its post-ShakespearianIts was not used originally in the Authorized Version of the Bible, and is said to have been rarely used in Shakespeare's time. It is, however, very common in Florio's Montaigne. His still represented the genitive of It as well as of He. Its is found, however, in M. for M. i. 2. 4, where it is emphatic; in W. T. i. 2 (three times, 151, 152, 266); Hen. VIII. i. 1. 18; Lear, iv. 2. 32, and elsewhere. Occasionally it, an early provincial form of the old genitive, is found for its, especially when a child is mentioned, or when any one is contemptuously spoken of as a child. Ben Jonson (Sil. Wom. ii. 3) uses both forms--
Your knighthood shall come on its knees.And then, a few lines lower down--
It knighthood shall fight all it friends.Comp. W. T. iii. 2. 109:
The innocent milk in it most innocent mouth.
But also of an unknown person:
“The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it's had it head bit off by it young.
“The corse they follow did with desperate hand
Fordo it own life.--(Folio.)
And of the ghost:
“Woman it pretty self.--(Folio.)
Perhaps the dislike of its, even in the eighteenth century, aided the adoption of the French idiom "lever la tête." “Where London's column, pointing at the skies,
“It lifted up it head.--(Folio.)
Like a tall bully lifts the head and lies.” POPE, Moral Essays, iii. 340. "It-selfe" is found referring to "who." (See 264.)
“The world who of it-selfe is peised well.