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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene IV.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

A Room in PAGE’S House.

MISTRESS QUICKLY stands apart.

Fent.I see I cannot get thy father’s love;

Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.

Anne.Alas! how then?

Fent.Why, thou must be thyself.

He doth object, I am too great of birth,

And that my state being gall’d with my expense,

I seek to heal it only by his wealth.

Besides these, other bars he lays before me,

My riots past, my wild societies;

And tells me ’tis a thing impossible

I should love thee but as a property.

Anne.May be he tells you true.

Fent.No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!

Albeit I will confess thy father’s wealth

Was the first motive that I woo’d thee, Anne:

Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value

Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;

And ’tis the very riches of thyself

That now I aim at.

Anne.Gentle Master Fenton,

Yet seek my father’s love; still seek it, sir:

If opportunity and humblest suit

Cannot attain it, why, then,—hark you hither.[They converse apart.


Shal.Break their talk, Mistress Quickly: my kinsman shall speak for himself.

Slen.I’ll make a shaft or a bolt on ’t. ’Slid, ’tis but venturing.

Shal.Be not dismayed.

Slen.No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that, but that I am afeard.

Quick.Hark ye; Master Slender would speak a word with you.

Anne.I come to him.[Aside.]This is my father’s choice.

O, what a world of vile ill-favour’d faults

Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!

Quick.And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you, a word with you.

Shal.She’s coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!

Slen.I had a father, Mistress Anne; my uncle can tell you good jests of him. Pray you, uncle, tell Mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.

Shal.Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.

Slen.Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Glostershire.

Shal.He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.

Slen.Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the degree of a squire.

Shal.He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.

Anne.Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.

Shal.Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She calls you, coz: I’ll leave you.

Anne.Now, Master Slender.

Slen.Now, good Mistress Anne.—

Anne.What is your will?

Slen.My will? od’s heartlings! that’s a pretty jest, indeed! I ne’er made my will yet, I thank heaven; I am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.

Anne.I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me?

Slen.Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you. Your father and my uncle have made motions: if it be my luck, so; if not, happy man be his dole! They can tell you how things go better than I can: you may ask your father; here he comes.


Page.Now, Master Slender: love him, daughter Anne.

Why, how now! what does Master Fenton here?

You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:

I told you, sir, my daughter is dispos’d of.

Fent.Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.

Mrs. Page.Good Master Fenton, come not to my child.

Page.She is no match for you.

Fent.Sir, will you hear me?

Page.No, good Master Fenton.

Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender, in.

Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.[Exeunt PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.

Quick.Speak to Mistress Page.

Fent.Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter

In such a righteous fashion as I do,

Perforce, against all checks, rebukes and manners,

I must advance the colours of my love

And not retire: let me have your good will.

Anne.Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool.

Mrs. Page.I mean it not; I seek you a better husband.

Quick.That’s my master, Master doctor.

Anne.Alas! I had rather be set quick i’ the earth,

And bowl’d to death with turnips.

Mrs. Page.Come, trouble not yourself. Good Master Fenton,

I will not be your friend nor enemy:

My daughter will I question how she loves you,

And as I find her, so am I affected.

’Till then, farewell, sir: she must needs go in;

Her father will be angry.

FentFarewell, gentle mistress. Farewell, Nan.[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE and ANNE.

Quick.This is my doing, now: ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘will you cast away your child on a fool, and a physician? Look on Master Fenton.’ This is my doing.

Fent.I thank thee: and I pray thee, once to-night

Give my sweet Nan this ring. There’s for thy pains.

Quick.Now heaven send thee good fortune![Exit FENTON.]A kind heart he hath: a woman would run through fire and water for such a kind heart. But yet I would my master had Mistress Anne; or I would Master Slender had her; or, in sooth, I would Master Fenton had her. I will do what I can for them all three, for so I have promised, and I’ll be as good as my word; but speciously for Master Fenton. Well, I must of another errand to Sir John Falstaff from my two mistresses: what a beast am I to slack it![Exit.