Henry IV, Part I "Shall I Not Take Mine Ease In Mine Inn?"

William Shakespeare

"Shall I Not Take Mine Ease In Mine Inn?"

Context: Falstaff, boon companion in fun to Prince Hal, faced the threat of arrest when the sheriff suddenly appeared at the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap while Hal and the "huge bombard of sack" were comically exchanging roles of father and son in anticipation of Hal's confrontation with his father the next morning. The sheriff was pursuing a report that an old fat man had been involved in the Gads Hill robbery of the king's retainers. Just as so frequently before, Hal had protected his crony by bidding him to hide behind the arras while he told the sheriff that Falstaff was engaged on a royal errand. The "tun of man" was so assured of the safety of the royal protection that he fell asleep and snored loudly. After the sheriff departed, the disgusted Hal picked his pockets, finding only bill upon bill for sack and bread. Now, in a later scene, Falstaff uses this action for his own purposes. With the hostess berating him for nonpayment of his tavern bills, he haughtily claims that he has been robbed and slanders her for operating an establishment in which a guest is not safe from a pick-pocket. He also slanders Prince Hal, who–unknown to him–has walked on stage behind him. Thus the scene is set for another moment of comic exposure in which Falstaff will be forced to use his wits to free himself from an awkward situation:


HOSTESS
. . . You owe money here besides, Sir John, for your diet, and by-drinkings, and money lent you, four and twenty pound.
FALSTAFF
He [Bardolph] had his part of it, let him pay.
HOSTESS
He? Alas he is poor, he hath nothing.
FALSTAFF
How? Poor? Look upon his face. What call you rich? Let them coin his nose, let them coin his cheeks, I'll not pay a denier. What, will you make a younker of me? Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall have my pocket picked? I have lost a sealring of my grandfather's worth forty mark.
. . . The Prince is a Jack, a sneak-up. 'Sblood an he were here, I would cudgel him like a dog if he would say so. . . .