A room in Page’s house.
(Fenton; Anne Page; Shallow; Slender; Mistress Quickly; Page)
Fenton tells Anne how unlikely it is that her father will ever approve of him, but she asks him to keep trying. Anne sees Slender approaching, and comments on how her father approves of him only because he’s rich. Slender attempts to woo her, but greatly needs his uncle Shallow’s help. He admits that he is only running after her because her father and his uncle insist on it. Page comes out to invite them all in and tells Fenton to leave Anne alone. Fenton pleads with Mistress Page, while Anne asks her to spare her from marrying Slender, but Mistress Page intends Dr. Caius to be Anne’s husband. Mistress Quickly assures Fenton that Anne likes him thanks to her. By now, she is a go-between for all three suitors, not to mention the messenger between the two wives and Falstaff. (82 lines)
Enter Fenton, Anne Page.
I see I cannot get thy father’s love,
Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.
Alas, how then?
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.
May be he tells you true.
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.
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.
Enter Shallow, Slender, Mistress Quickly.
Break their talk, Mistress Quickly, my kinsman shall speak for himself.
I’ll make a shaft or a bolt on’t. ’Slid, ’tis but venturing.
Be not dismay’d.
No, she shall not dismay me. I care not for that, but that I am afeard.
Hark ye, Master Slender would speak a word with you.
I come to him.
This is my father’s choice.
O, what a world of vild ill-favor’d faults
Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!
And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you a word with you.
She’s coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!
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.
Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.
Ay, that I do—as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire.
He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.
Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the degree of a squire.
He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.
Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She calls you, coz. I’ll leave you.
Now, Master Slender—
Now, good Mistress Anne—
What is your will?
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.
I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me?
Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you. Your father and my uncle hath 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.
Enter Page, Mistress 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.
Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.
Good Master Fenton, come not to my child.
She is no match for you.
Sir, will you hear me?
No, good Master Fenton.
Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender, in.
Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.
Exeunt Page, Shallow, and Slender.
Speak to Mistress Page.
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 colors of my love,
And not retire. Let me have your good will.
Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool.
I mean it not, I seek you a better husband.
That’s my master, Master Doctor.
Alas, I had rather be set quick i’ th’ earth,
And bowl’d to death with turnips!
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.
Farewell, gentle mistress; farewell, Nan.
Exeunt Mrs. Page and Anne.
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.
I thank thee; and I pray thee, once tonight
Give my sweet Nan this ring. There’s for thy pains.
Now heaven send thee good fortune!
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 promis’d, 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!