Times change, and so do attitudes. A platitude, but we forget. Until we are reminded.

Here’s a description of how Thomas More (who brought us the word “Utopia” and was considered oh-so-progressive because he educated his daughters as well as his son) helped Sir William Roper decide which of More’s daughters he’d like to marry:

Roper calls one morning and tells More that he wishes to marry one of More’s daughters–either one will do–upon which More takes Roper to his bedroom, where the daughters are asleep in a truckle bed wheeled out from beneath the parental bed. Leaning over, More deftly takes “the sheet by the corner and suddenly whippes it off” … revealing the girls to be fundamentally naked. Groggily protesting at the disturbance, they roll onto their stomachs, and after a moment’s admiring reflection Sir William announces that he has seen both sides now and with his stick lightly taps the bottom of sixteen-year-old Margaret.

Found at Hermione’s Heart.

Update: I was going to post the above as-is. But then I thought, let’s chase this deeper into the original material. What I found was the following from John Aubrey’s Brief Lives, c. 1690:

Memorandum that in [More’s] Utopia, his lawe is that young people are to see each other stark-naked before marriage. Sir William Roper came one morning pretty early to my Lord, with a proposall to marry one of his daughters. My Lord’s daughters were then both together in a bed in a truckle-bed in their father’s chamber asleep. He carries Sir William into the chamber, and takes the sheet by the corner and suddenly whippes it off. They lay on their backs, and the their smocks up as high as their arme pitts; this awakened them, and immediately they turned on their bellies. Quoth Sir William Roper, “I have seen both sides”, and so gave a patt on her buttock, he made choice of, saying,” Thou art mine.”

Here was all the trouble of the wooing.