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H.W. Fowler (1858–1933).  The King’s English, 2nd ed.  1908.

Chapter II. Syntax

RELATIVES

c. 'And who'; 'and which'.



THE various possibilities of relative coordination, right and wrong, may be thus stated: (i) a relative clause may be rightly or wrongly coordinated with another relative clause; this we shall call 'open' coordination; (ii) it may be rightly or wrongly coordinated with words that are equivalent to a relative clause, and for which a relative clause can be substituted; 'latent' coordination; (iii) a clause that has obviously no coordinate, open or latent, may yet be introduced by 'and' or other word implying coordination; for such offenders, which cannot be coordinate and will not be subordinate, 'insubordination' is not too harsh a term.

The following are ordinary types of the three classes:

  1. Men who are ambitious, and whose ambition has never been thwarted,...

    Pitt, who was ambitious, but whose ambition was qualified by...

  2. Ambitious men, and whose ambition has never been thwarted,...

    An evil now, alas! beyond our power to remedy, and for which we have to thank the folly of our predecessors.

  3. Being thus pressed, he grudgingly consented at last to a redistribution, and which, I need not say, it was his duty to have offered in the first instance.


A coordination in which 'and' is the natural conjunction may also be indicated simply by a comma; there is safety in this course, since the clause following the comma may be either coordinate or subordinate. But we have to deal only with clauses that are committed to coordination.

'Insubordination' will not detain us long; it is always due either to negligence or to gross ignorance; we shall illustrate it in its place with a few examples, but shall not discuss it. With regard, however, to open and latent coordination opinions differ; there is an optimist view of open coordination, and a pessimist view of latent, both of which seem to us incorrect. It is held by some that open coordination (provided that the relatives have the same antecedent) is never wrong, and by some—not necessarily others—that latent coordination is never right: we shall endeavour to show that the former is often wrong, and the latter, however ungainly, often right.

The essential to coordination is that the coordinates should be performing the same function in the sentence. It is not necessary, nor is it enough, that they should be in the same grammatical form: things of the same form may have different functions, and things of different forms may have the same function. If we say 'Unambitious men, and who have no experience', 'unambitious' and 'who have no experience' are not in the same form, but they have the same function—that of specifying the class of men referred to. Their grammatical forms (vocabulary permitting) are interchangeable: a defining adjective can always take the form of a relative clause, and a defining relative clause can often take the form of an adjective: 'inexperienced men, and who have no ambition'. 'Unambitious' is therefore the true grammatical equivalent of 'who have no ambition', and latent coordination between it and a relative clause is admissible.

On the other hand, among things that have the same grammatical form, but different functions, are the defining and the non-defining relative clause. A non-defining clause, we know, can be removed without disturbing the truth of the predication; it has therefore no essential function; it cannot therefore have the same function as a defining clause, whose function we know to be essential. It follows that open coordination is not admissible between a defining and a non-defining clause; and, generally, coordination, whether open or latent, is admissible between two defining or two non-defining coordinates, but not between a defining and a non-defining.

Our object, however, in pointing out what seems to be the true principle of relative coordination is not by any means to encourage the latent variety. It has seldom any advantage over full coordination; it is perhaps more apt to lead to actual blunders; it is usually awkward; and it does violence-needless violence, as often as not—to a very widespread and not unreasonable prejudice. Many writers may be suspected of using it, against their better judgement, merely for the purpose of asserting a right; it is their natural protest against the wholesale condemnation of ignorant critics, who do not see that latent coordination may be nothing worse than clumsy, and that open coordination may be a gross blunder. For the benefit of such critics it seems worth while to examine the correctness of various examples, both open and latent; on the other merits and demerits of the latent variety the reader will form his own judgement.

  1. Open coordination.

    A few minutes brought us to a large and busy bazaar, with the localities of which the stranger appeared well acquainted, and where his original demeanour again became apparent.—Poe.

    Mr. Lovelace has seen divers apartments at Windsor; but not one, he says, that he thought fit for me, and which, at the same time, answered my description.—Richardson.

    All the toys that infatuate men, and which they play for, are the self-same thing.—Emerson.


    All these are correct: in the first both clauses are non-defining, in the others both define.

    The hills were so broken and precipitous as to afford no passage except just upon the narrow line of the track which we occupied, and which was overhung with rocks, from which we might have been destroyed merely by rolling down stones.—Scott.


    Wrong: the first clause defines, the second not.

    From doing this they were prevented by the disgraceful scene which took place, and which the leader of the Opposition took no steps to avert.—Times.


    Wrong. The first clause defines, the second is obviously one of comment: the 'scene' is not distinguished from those that the leader did take steps to avert.

    They propose that the buildings shall belong ... to the communes in which they stand, and which, it is hoped, will not permit their desecration.—Spectator.


    Wrong. The communes that 'will not permit' are not meant to be distinguished from those that will. The second clause is comment, the first defines.

    The way in which she jockeyed Jos, and which she described with infinite fun, carried up his delight to a pitch...—Thackeray.

    In the best French which he could muster, and which in sooth was of a very ungrammatical sort...—Thackeray.

    Peggy ... would have liked to have shown her turban and bird of paradise at the ball, but for the information which her husband had given her, and which made her very grave.—Thackeray.


    All these are wrong. Thackeray would probably have been saved from these false coordinations if he had observed the distinction between 'that' and 'which': 'In the best French (that) he could muster, which in sooth was...'.

    There goes another sort of animal that is differentiating from my species, and which I would gladly see exterminated.—H. G. Wells.


    Probably the second clause, like the first, is meant to define: if so, the coordination is right; if not, it is wrong. We have alluded to the tendency to avoid 'that' when the relative is widely separated from its antecedent; here, the result is ambiguity.

    And here he said in German what he wished to say, and which was of no great importance, and which I translated into English.—Borrow.


    Wrong: 'what (that which)' defines, the 'and which' clauses do not.

  2. Latent coordination, between relative clause and equivalent, is seldom correct when the relative clause is non-defining; for the equivalent, with few and undesirable exceptions, is always a defining adjective or phrase, and can be coordinate only with a defining clause. The equivalent must of course be a true one; capable, that is, of being converted into a relative clause without altering the effect of the sentence. Neglect of this restriction often results in false coordination, especially in one particular type of sentence. Suppose that a historian, after describing some national calamity, proceeds: 'In these distressing circumstances...' Here we might seem to have two possible equivalents, 'these' and 'distressing'. First let us expand 'these' into a relative clause: 'In the distressing circumstances that I have described'. This, in the context, is a fair equivalent, and as often as not would actually appear instead of 'these'. But next expand 'distressing': 'In these circumstances, which were distressing', a non-defining clause. To this expansion no writer would consent; it defeats the object for which 'distressing' was placed before the antecedent. That object was to record his own sensibility without disparaging the reader's by telling him in so many words (as our relative clause does) that the circumstances were distressing; and it is secured by treating 'distressing' not as a separate predication but as an inseparable part of the antecedent. 'Distressing', it will be observed, cannot give us a defining clause; it is obviously meant to be co-extensive with 'these'; we are not to select from 'these' circumstances those only that are 'distressing'. Moreover, as 'these', although capable of appearing as a relative clause, can scarcely require another relative clause to complete the limitation of the antecedent, it follows that in sentences of this form coordination will generally be wrong. We have examples in the Cowper quotation below, and in the anonymous one that precedes it.

    Juices ready prepared, and which can be absorbed immediately.—Huxley.

    A deliberate attempt to frame and to verify general rules as to phenomena of all kinds, and which can, therefore, be propagated by argument or persuasion...—L. Stephen.


    'Rules that shall be general, and that can...'

    A painful, comprehensive survey of a very complicated matter, and which requires a great variety of considerations, is to be made.—Burke.

    The goldsmith to the royal household, and who, if fame spoke true, oftentimes acted as their banker, ... was a person of too much importance to...—Scott.


    'The man who was goldsmith to ... and who'.

    It is a compliment due, and which I willingly pay, to those who administer our affairs.—Burke.


    All these are correct, with defining coordinates throughout.

    'A junior subaltern, with pronounced military and political views, with no false modesty in expressing them, and who (sic) possesses the ear of the public,...'—(Quoted by the Times.)


    'Who has ... views, and who...' 'Sic' is the comment of the Times writer. The coordination is correct.

    While there, she had ample opportunity afforded her of studying fashionable life in all its varied and capricious moods, and which have been preserved to posterity in her admirable delineations of character.

    I am sensible that you cannot in my uncle's present infirm state, and of which it is not possible to expect any considerable amendment, indulge us with a visit.—Cowper.


    These are the instances of false expansion alluded to above. The former is based on the non-defining expansion 'in all its moods, which are varied and capricious'; the true expansion being 'in all the varied and capricious moods in which it reveals itself', a defining clause, which will not do with the 'and which'. Similarly, the second is based on the non-defining expansion 'in my uncle's present state, which is an infirm one'; the true expansion is 'in the infirm state in which my uncle now is'. In both, a non-defining clause is coordinated with words that can only yield a defining clause.

    Previous to the innovations introduced by the Tudors, and which had been taken away by the bill against pressing soldiers, the King in himself had no power of calling on his subjects generally to bear arms.—J. R. Green.


    If the writer means us to distinguish, among the innovations introduced by the Tudors, those that had also been taken away, the 'and which' clause defines, and the coordination is right. But more probably the clause conveys independent information; the coordination is then wrong.

    [The various arrangements of pueri puellam amabant] all have the same meaning—the boys loved the girl. For puellam shows by its form that it must be the object of the action; amabant must have for its subject a plural substantive, and which must therefore be, not puellam,, but pueri.—R. G. White.


    Wrong. 'A plural substantive' can yield only the defining clause 'a substantive that is plural'. Now these words contain an inference from a general grammatical principle (that a plural verb must have a plural subject); and any supplementary defining clause must also be general, not (like the 'and which' clause) particular. We might have, for instance, 'Amabant, being plural, and finite, must have for its subject a plural substantive, and which is in the nominative case'. But the 'and which' clause is evidently non-defining; the inference ends at 'substantive'; then comes the application of it to the particular case.

    He refused to adopt the Restrictive Theory, and impose a numerical limit on the Bank's issues, and which he again protested against in 1833.—H. D. Macleod.


    Wrong. The 'and which' clause is non-defining; none of the three possible antecedents ('Theory', 'limit', 'imposition') will give a non-defining clause.

    The great obstacle ... is the religion of Europe, and which has unhappily been colonially introduced into America.—Beaconsfield.


    This illustrates an important point. 'Of Europe' gives the defining clause 'that prevails in Europe'; the coordination therefore requires that the 'and which' clause should define. Now a defining clause must contain no word that is not meant to contribute to definition; if, then, the 'and which' clause defines, the writer wishes to distinguish the religion in question, not only from those European religions that have not been colonially introduced into America, but also from those European religions that have been introduced, but whose introduction is not a matter for regret; that is the only defining meaning that 'unhappily' can bear, and unless we accept this interpretation the clause is non-defining.—We shall allude to this sentence again in d., where the possibilities of parenthesis in a defining clause are discussed.

    It may seem strange that this important place should not have been conferred on Vaca de Castro, already on the spot, and who had shown himself so well qualified to fill it.—Prescott.


    One of our 'few and undesirable exceptions', in which the clause-equivalent is non-defining ('who was already on the spot'); for a person's name can only require a defining clause to distinguish him from others of the same name. The sentence is an ugly one, even if we remove the 'and who' clause; but the coordination is right.

  3. Insubordination.

    The struggler, the poor clerk, mechanic, poorer musician, artist, or actor, feels no right to intrude, and who quickly falls from a first transient resentment...—Daily Telegraph.

    Such a person may reside there with absolute safety, unless it becomes the object of the government to secure his person; and which purpose, even then, might be disappointed by early intelligence.—Scott.

    All this when Madame saw, and of which when she took note, her sole observation was:—...—C. Brontë


    To these we may add examples in which the coordinated relatives have different antecedents. In practice, nothing can justify such coordination: in theory, it is admissible when the antecedents are coordinate, as in the following sentence:

    We therefore delivered the supplies to those individuals, and at those places, to whom the special grants had been made, and for which they were originally designed.


    But in the following instances, one antecedent is subordinate to another in the same clause, or is in a clause subordinate to that of the other.

    They marched into the apartment where the banquet was served; and which, as I have promised the reader he shall enjoy it, he shall have the liberty of ordering himself.—Thackeray.

    A large mineral-water firm in London, whose ordinary shares are a million in value, and which shares always paid a dividend before the imposition of the sugar-tax, have not paid any dividend since.—Times.

    He very much doubted whether I could find it on his mine, which was located some five miles from St. Austell, Cornwall, and upon whose property I had never been.—Times.

    But I have besought my mother, who is apprehensive of Mr. Lovelace's visits, and for fear of whom my uncles never stir out without arms,...—Richardson.


    It was of Mr. Lovelace that the uncles were afraid.


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