PRONOUNS, RELATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE. That refers to an essential characteristicThat. (a) Since that introduces an essential characteristic without which the description is not complete, it follows that, even where this distinction is not marked, that comes generally nearer to the antecedent than who or which.
“To think of the teen that I have turn'd you to
Which is from my remembrance!
“I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop,
Who falling there to seek his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.
“You have oft enquired
After the shepherd that complain'd of love,
Who you saw sitting by me on the turf.
The same order is preserved in A. Y. L. iii. 5. 13; 2 Hen. IV. i. 3. 59; Lear, iii. 4. 134-139; 2 Hen. VI. iv. 1. 3; Lear, iv. 2. 51-53 (where we find that, who, that, consecutively); Lear, iii. 7. 89, 90; 1 Hen. IV. ii. 1. 80 (that, the which, that); Tempest, iv. 1. 76. The distinction between that and which is preserved in
“And here's a prophet that I brought with me
From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
With many hundreds treading on his heels.
“It is an heretic that (by nature, of necessity) makes the fire,
Not she which (as an accidental fact) burns in it.
In the latter passage "he that" = "who-so," and refers to a class, "he which" to the single person addressed. Thus Wickliffe (Matt. xxiii. 21) has "he that sweareth," whereas the other versions have "whoso" or "whosoever sweareth." That is generally used after he, all, aught, &c. where a class is denoted. This is so common as not to require examples, and it is found even where that is objective.
“And he doth sin that doth belie the dead,
Not he which (as you do) says the dead is not alive.
“He that a fool doth very wisely hit.
euphony perhaps will not allow "that it." (See Which, 265.) The following is not an exception:
“The great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit,
for here which is used parenthetically (see 271). So Rich. II. iii. 4. 50. In
“It was the swift celerity of his death,
Which I did think with slower foot came on,
That brain'd my purpose.
a distinction appears to be drawn between the singular nominative represented by the uninflected that, and the objective plural represented by the inflected whom.
“He that no more must say is listen'd more
Than they whom youth and ease have taught to glose.