LEONATOWell, then, go you into hell?BEATRICENo, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here's no place for you maids:' so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.
LEONATOWell, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.BEATRICENot till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.
[I]f the name of wife appears more sacred and more valid, sweeter to me is ever the word friend, or, if thou be not ashamed, concubine ... And thou thyself wert not wholly unmindful of that ... [as in ] thou hast not disdained to set forth sundry reasons by which I tried to dissuade thee from our marriage, from an ill-starred bed; but wert silent as to many, in which I preferred love to wedlock, freedom to a bond. I call God to witness, if Augustus, ruling over the whole world, were to deem me worthy of the honour of marriage, and to confirm the whole world to me, to be ruled by me forever, dearer to me and of greater dignity would it seem to be called thy concubine than his empress.
[F]rom my years of understanding ... I happily chose this kind of life in which I yet live [i.e., unmarried], which I assure you for my own part hath hitherto best contented myself and I trust hath been most acceptable to God. From the which if either ambition of high estate offered to me in marriage by the pleasure and appointment of my prince ... or if the eschewing of the danger of my enemies or the avoiding of the peril of death ... could have drawn or dissuaded me from this kind of life, I had not now remained in this estate wherein you see me. But so constant have I always continued in this determination ... yet is it most true that at this day I stand free from any other meaning that either I have had in times past or have at this present.
There must be some other possibility than death or lifelong penance ... some meeting, some intersection of lines; and some cowardly, hopeful geometer in my brain tells me it is the angle at which two lines prop each other up, the leaning-together from the vertical which produces the false arch. For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life. Only the very lucky discover the keystone.
It was a fact generally acknowledged by all but the most contumacious spirits at the beginning of the seventeenth century that woman was the weaker vessel; weaker than man, that is. ... That was the way God had arranged Creation, sanctified in the words of the Apostle. ... Under the common law of England at the accession of King James I, no female had any rights at all (if some were allowed by custom). As an unmarried woman her rights were swallowed up in her father's, and she was his to dispose of in marriage at will. Once she was married her property became absolutely that of her husband. What of those who did not marry? Common law met that problem blandly by not recognizing it. In the words of [the leading 17th century compendium on women's legal status]: 'All of them are understood either married or to be married.' In 1603 England, in short, still lived in a world governed by feudal law, where a wife passed from the guardianship of her father to her husband; her husband also stood in relation to her as a feudal lord.
And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in that light, certainly their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could place them in such a view. You will allow that in both man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty each to endeavor to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbors, or fancying that they should have been better off with any one else.
Still it is true that many same-sex couples want nothing more than to join society as fully integrated socially responsible family-centered taxpaying Little League-coaching nation-serving respectably married citizens. So why not welcome them in Why not recruit them by the vanload to sweep in on heroic wings and save the flagging and battered old institution of matrimony from a bunch of apathetic ne'er-do-well heterosexual deadbeats like me