S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
By teaching them how to carry themselves in their relations of husbands and wives, parents and children, they have, without question, adorned the gospel, glorified God, and benefited man, much more than they could have done in the devoutest and strictest celibacy.
The most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humourous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles.
Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects, for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition. A single life doth well for churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife.
Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hard-hearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon.
A man shall see the noblest works and foundations have proceeded from childless men; which have sought to express the images of their minds where those of their bodies have failed: so the care of posterity is most in them that have no posterity.
They that have grown old in a single state are generally found to be morose, fretful, and captious; tenacious of their own practices and maxims; soon offended by contradiction or negligence; and impatient of any association but with those that will watch their nod, and submit themselves to unlimited authority. Such is the effect of having lived without the necessity of consulting any inclination but their own.
It is hardly necessary to remarkmuch less to provethat, even supposing there were some spiritual advantage in celibacy, it ought to be completely voluntary from day to day, and not to be enforced by a life-long vow or rule. For in this case, even though a person should not repent of such a vow, no one can be sure that there is not such repentance. Supposing that even a large majority, and monks, and nuns, have no desire to marry, every one of them may not unreasonably be suspected of such a desire, and no one of them, consequently, can be secure against the most odious suspicions. No doubt there are many Roman Catholic clergy (as there are Protestant) who sincerely prefer celibacy. But in the one case we have a ground of assurance of this, which is wanting in the other. No one can be sure, because no proof can be given, that a vow of perpetual celibacy may not some time or other be a matter of regret. But he who continues to live single while continuing to have a free choice, gives a fair evidence of a continued preference for that life.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacons Essay VIII., Of Married and Single Life.