I’m reading an article by Joseph Addison, The Tatler #108, dated December 17, 1709. He says:

The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference betwixt them as great as between gods and brutes.

Why doesn’t he use ‘it’?


From the example text, it sounds like the use of 'her' instead of 'it' is a stylistic choice to cause the reader to ascribe feminine qualities to the soul. The passage is written in a poetic style, so treat it as poetic license.

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  • @MahmudMuhammadNaguib - Well, a "soul" is generally presumed to be human. – Hot Licks Nov 30 '16 at 22:24
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    I'd imagine it links in to calling ships feminine – BladorthinTheGrey Nov 30 '16 at 22:26

I think the phrase "the partition between the virtuous and the vicious" gives us the key. There used to be an idealized view of women and feminine qualities. Women were considered naturally virtuous. So anything an author might consider virtuous would be given a feminine gender.

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