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PRONOUNS, RELATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE. The which

The which. The above repetition is, perhaps, more common with the definite "the which":

“The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part
I have saved my life.

Sometimes the noun qualified by which is not repeated, and only slightly implied in the previous sentence:

“Under an oak . . . to the which place.

“Let gentleness my strong enforcement be,
In the which hope I blush.” Ib. ii. 7. 119.

The question may arise why "the" is attached to which and not to who. (The instance

“Your mistress from the whom I see
There's no disjunction,

is, perhaps, unique in Shakespeare.) The answer is, that who is considered definite already, and stands for a noun, while which is considered as an indefinite adjective; just as in French we have "lequel," but not "lequi." "The which" is generally used either as above, where the antecedent, or some word like the antecedent, is repeated, or else where such a repetition could be made if desired. In almost all cases there are two or more possible antecedents from which selection must be made. (The use of "lequel" is similar.)

“To make a monster of the multitude, of the which (multitude)
we being members should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

“Lest your justice
Prove violence, in the which (violence) three great ones suffer.

“Eight hundred nobles
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers,
The which (nobles) he hath detain'd for lewd employments.

"The which" is also naturally used after a previous "which."

“The present business
Which now's upon us: without the which this story
Were most impertinent.

“The chain
Which God he knows I saw not, for the which
He did arrest me.

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