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Establishing Shakespeare's Text: Poins and Peto in 1 Henry IV by Fredson Bowers
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Establishing Shakespeare's Text: Poins and Peto in 1 Henry IV
Fredson Bowers

Unless the edition is like the New Arden with a selection of textual notes, readers of 1 Henry IV in modernized texts will be unaware of a problem of staging that involves Poins and Peto. The facts are these. In Act I, scene ii, Poins reports to Hal and Falstaff that travellers are to come by Gadshill. After persuading Hal to join the hoax on Falstaff, he makes his exit, whereupon the scene concludes with Hal's 'I know you all' soliloquy. In II.ii the disguised Poins and Hal attack Falstaff and the others and secure the booty. Back at the tavern, in II.iv Poins joins Hal first in ragging Francis the drawer and then in exposing Falstaff. On the arrival of the Sheriff, Hal orders Falstaff to conceal himself behind the arras and 'the rest [to] walke up above.' In the Quarto there is no exit direction for anyone, although the Folio (with whatever authority it may possess) supplies the required but uninformative 'Exit.' The Prince and the Sheriff discuss Falstaff and the robbery in guarded terms. Upon the Sheriff's exit the Prince's next line is 'This oylie rascall is knowne as well as Poules' and he orders 'goe call him forth.' In Quarto and in Folio it is not Poins but Peto who responds by drawing the arras and ejaculating, 'Falstalffe: fast a sleepe behind the Arras,


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and snorting like a horse.' As they search Falstaff, Peto answers the Prince's question of what he has found: 'Nothing but papers my Lord.' The Prince reads off the list of Falstaff's expenditures, ending with the meager halfpenny for bread. He announces: 'ile to the court in the morning. We must all to the wars, and thy place shal be honorable'; and after proposing a charge of foot soldiers for Falstaff he concludes, 'bee with me betimes in the morning, and so good morrow Peto.' As the exeunt line Peto answers, 'Good morrow good my Lord.'

This scene poses a difficulty, for without motivation Peto has been silently abstracted from Falstaff's party, with whom he entered, and appointed Hal's servant as a substitute for the attendant and part-companion, Poins. In staging, the dialogue forces us to take it that Poins joins Bardolph and Gadshill in the unnoted exeunt before the Sheriff's arrival but, inexplicably and with no prior arrangement or command, Peto stays with the Prince in his place. Moreover, upon his exit, Poins disappears from the play although he should have appeared in III.iii. Some editors have considered that there has been compositorial confusion here owing to the Quarto abbreviated speech-prefix Po. for Poins that could have been misread as Pe., and these have followed Dr. Johnson by emending to remove Peto and to re-install Poins as the Prince's companion at the end of the scene, this requiring a stage-direction that includes Peto in the general exit before the Sheriff's arrival. Nevertheless, whatever one may think of the emendation, compositorial confusion is unlikely to have extended to the name Peto in the Prince's farewell.[1]

The switch in the roles begun in the Quarto at the end of II.iv is continued in Act III, scene iii, opening with Falstaff, Bardolph, and then the Hostess in the tavern, these being joined by Hal in the following stage-direction: 'Enter the prince marching, and Falstalffe meetes him playing upon his trunchion like a fife.' Peto has no speaking part, but it seems clear that he enters with the Prince, even though unmentioned in the stage-directions,[2] for at the scene's close Hal cries, 'Go Peto to horse, to horse, for thou and I | Have thirty miles to ride yet ere dinner time'. This is the last of Peto on stage, although we hear of him in IV.ii when Falstaff, on the march, orders Bardolph, 'bid my Liuetenant Peto meet me at townes end.'


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In this second tavern scene III.iii earlier editors once more were likely to substitute Poins for Peto as Hal's companion despite the text, aided by the assumption that Poins fits the metre as in 'Go Poins to horse, to horse' better than Peto. However, the extra weak syllable is by no means so unmetrical as to make this sufficient evidence for a mistake. Indeed, any theory for compositorial or scribal error based on a confusion of speech-prefixes breaks down on the occurrence of the name in the dialogue in two different scenes, the more especially since in III.iii Peto appears in the Quarto neither in stage-direction nor in speech-prefix.

Since another explanation must be sought, it behooves an editor to account for the abrupt substitution of Peto for Poins at the end of the first tavern scene, and on the basis of this explanation to decide what he should do in the text: whether to emend to Poins in both scenes, which has not been done since Dyce except for Dover Wilson and Charles Sisson; or to split the ticket with the old Oxford and Kittredge by retaining Peto in II.iv but emending to Poins in Hal's 'to horse, to horse' in III.iii; or to retain Peto in both scenes according to the Quarto and Folio authority, as in Alexander, the New Arden, the New Penguin, and other modern editions like the Pelican and New Riverside. In my opinion this latter has been a course influenced more by an inability to explain the anomaly of the names than by any conviction that the Quarto text offers a basically desirable assignment.

So far as I have been able to investigate, a satisfactory explanation for this odd switch in characters has not been offered. I suggest that such an explanation is important: those who emend either in both scenes or, unreasonably, in the second only, have taken it that compositorial or scribal error has somehow occurred, whereas those who decline to emend presumably do so on the ground that even against their better judgment they are following in the Quarto the only evidence they have for Shakespeare's intention. Either school of thought poses its difficulties.

I propose a relatively simple theatrical explanation. In Julius Cœsar I think it is now established that Dover Wilson's old guess was right and that the same actor doubled the lean and hungry Cassius and the emaciated sick man Caius Ligarius recruited to the conspiracy by Brutus.[3] As a consequence, it is Ligarius, not Cassius, who waits on Cæsar with the other conspirators to escort him to the Capitol even though Cassius had stated that he would be present; yet it is Cassius who enters with the procession at the Capitol, and Ligarius not only does not appear in this stage-direction but is not mentioned in the assassination. This disruption is readily explained by the doubling, an expedient also reinforced by other evidence which indicates that the part of Ligarius was added in a revision of the text after it had been copied out. What we have in 1 Henry IV, I suggest, is the same situation: because of an assignment of actors decided upon during the early planning for production, or even during rehearsal, the actor of Poins had to be withdrawn


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before the end of II.iv in order to double the part of another character. The abrupt expedient of attaching Peto to Hal instead of Hal's continuing with Poins can scarcely have resulted from any literary consideration, for nothing occurs in II.iv to lead Hal to shift his favor from the quick-witted Poins to the stupid and cowardly Peto. To follow this favor by elevating such a Falstaffian hanger-on to a place of honor in the wars (implying a rank of officer) though appropriate for Poins is to violate all propriety for Peto.[4]

If Poins could not be permitted to finish the scene, the only reason must have been that the actor was to double a role in the very next. The next scene is Act III, scene i, marked by the entrance of Hotspur, Worcester, Mortimer, and Glendower in the opening stage-direction. As a doubled part Hotspur must be excluded because his immediate entrance at the start of II.iii had followed directly after Poins's exit in the Gadshill robbery scene. Worcester is a possibility. The closest that his entrance ever comes to an exit by Poins is at the beginning of I.iii which follows the plans for the robbery in I.ii but with Hal's 'I know you all' soliloquy intervening for twenty-three lines between Poins's exit and Worcester's entrance. This soliloquy might have provided somewhat less time to change costume than the action of discovering Falstaff at the end of II.iv, but it could have been enough if Worcester were the part doubled.[5] However, both Mortimer and Glendower are candidates as well, perhaps more attractive in some respects than Worcester,[6] even though Poins's continued absence in Acts IV and V could be explained by Worcester's important role in that section. But since Peto is not present in these acts either, I think it clear that once the battle is forward the seriousness of the action prevented Hal from carrying along a low-life companion like Peto, or even Poins: such an incongruity would have interfered with Shakespeare's efforts to show that the Prince has detached himself from the tavern milieu and is now committed to the chivalric life. The brief interludes with Falstaff are enough to continue the comic subplot without diminishing Hal's glory. Moreover, it should not be held against either


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Mortimer or Glendower as a candidate that after III.i they do not again appear in the play, and thus that there is no theatrical reason why Poins should not have replaced Peto in III.iii even if there were reasons why he should have been dropped later.[7] It must be emphasized that once Peto has been assigned as Hal's companion in II.iv after the departure of the Sheriff, Shakespeare was bound to retain him whether or not Poins was physically able to resume his role in III.iii.[8]

Evidence is lacking, then, that might point to Worcester or to Mortimer or Glendower as Poins's doubled part, although it must have been one of the three. Nonetheless, once the probability of the hypothesis for doubling is accepted, the two particular consequences that follow are of greater import than the identification of the doubled character. As an example, the recognition of Shakespeare's revision of Julius Cæsar led to a reassessment of the nature of the Folio printer's copy. Greg's generally accepted assumption that it was Shakespeare's own holograph had to make way for the more probable hypothesis—given the characteristics of the text as well as the theatrically motivated revision—that Jaggard's copy was a scribal transcript used for the early stages of rehearsal, or at least for the early planning of the production, before a promptbook had been written up. An intermediate transcript, in short, containing what might have been Shakespeare's own holograph revisions in three and just possibly in four scenes. It follows that if an exchange of roles for Poins and Peto to enable the Poins actor to double another character in III.i were inserted in the manuscript of 1 Henry IV, there could be a tug to forsake Greg's tentative leaning toward a Quarto printed from Shakespeare's papers and to accept as somewhat strengthened Alice Walker's assignment (made on other evidence) of the printer's copy as a non-authorial fair transcript of the foul papers and therefore a predecessor of the promptbook;[9] that is, an intermediate transcript as in the copy for Julius Cœsar.[10]


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Between the two plays a real distinction must be drawn, however. The doubling of Cassius as Caius Ligarius caused what can be described as a major revision and amplification of one scene and minor revision in another. No such evidence of textual expansion or thematic revision is found in 1 Henry IV, nor is there any evidence for more than minor textual change. In fact, except for the simple substitution of Peto's name for Poins's, no other change may have been made in II.iv.[11] Since Poins was disguised, as was Hal, when they attacked Falstaff and his crew, he could not be identified by the Carrier who accompanied the Sheriff and thus it is natural that in the original version with no mention made he should have stayed with Hal during the encounter, as a necessary attendant. This same action is difficult to account for with Peto, who was identifiable and had not been requested to remain in order to replace a Poins who had no reason to leave. That the substitution creaks in this manner may be an indication that Shakespeare (if it were indeed he who tinkered with this doubling problem) made no


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effort to motivate the change by rewriting. The case is slightly altered in III.iii. Since in the original version Peto would not have been detached from Falstaff in II.iv, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have accompanied Falstaff's and Bardolph's entrance in III.iii and presumably he need not have been mute even though his part would likely have been smaller than Bardolph's, who was his superior. We may also speculate that in the fun made with the Hostess and Falstaff, Poins would not have been mute but would have joined in as he had in II.iv before he dropped from sight. On the other hand, it is appropriate for Peto, as Hal's attendant, to play the mute, for he has no wit and could take no part in the joke about the ring and so on. Cutting, therefore, seems to have been the procedure in adjusting III.iii to the changed circumstances.

If this is so, the editorial problem is somewhat sharpened although the procedures to be adopted still remain similar to those advisable for Julius Cœsar. The exigencies of doubling should have no effect on the production (or reading) of Julius Cœsar as it ought to be performed (or read) without the necessity for doubling. To establish a text of Julius Cœsar that does not include Ligarius in the procession at the Capitol and, though a mute, in the assassination would now be, in my view, the height of pedantry. By the same logic, we must distinguish between 1 Henry IV as Shakespeare originally intended it to be acted and the form in which we find it in the Quarto after the doubling rearrangement of parts had been inserted. Any modern producer who retains Peto instead of restoring Poins as Hal's attendant throughout would be violating the clear intention of the author as he wrote the play without doubling in mind. It follows that, as in Julius Cœsar, an editor should ignore the changes later forced on Shakespeare (or caused by company tinkering) because of a problem in casting, perhaps because of the company's attempt to have each role played by the most appropriate actor (as with Cassius-Ligarius), which would mean that the actor of Poins might have been thought to be peculiarly suited for some other part as well.[12]

Dr. Johnson's instincts were sounder than the present-day veneration for a theatrically altered text that violates the propriety of character and of situation as Shakespeare had conceived it. An editor cannot restore the missing lines in III.iii but here and in II.iv he can at least give back to Hal his proper companion Poins, and keep Peto exclusively where he belongs in Part One, that is, as a member of Falstaff's party, to which in fact he reverts in Falstaff's reference (presumably in the original version and never altered to take account of the change in II.iv and III.iii) to "my lieutenant Peto" who is to meet him at town's end when the characters of the comic underplot are on the way to the battle.


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A Note on 2 Henry IV

In 2 Henry IV Poins is back as Hal's boon companion in II.ii; and in II.iv he participates in disguise with the Prince in the exposure of Falstaff, a parallel to the Gadshill robbery and then the revelation scene at the tavern in Part One, II.iv. As in the first part he then disappears since there is no longer an appropriate role for him to play with the Prince in the serious military and dynastic action that follows. Bardolph is again established as Falstaff's companion and second in command, but Peto is detached from them and is replaced by the Page, especially in such scenes as II.iv, III.ii, and V.i,iii,v. Peto is apparently in Hal's service, although on less intimate terms than in the revision in III.iii of Part One where the words addressed to him were originally spoken to Poins, presumably without change. Peto's single appearance in Part Two is as a messenger in II.iv when he reports to Hal that the King is at Westminster, that twenty wearied posts from the north have brought news of the rebellion, and that a dozen captains are searching for Falstaff. (These captains are once again mentioned when they knock at the tavern door and Bardolph tells Falstaff of their arrival.) Since on Peto's entrance Hal immediately asks him for the news, it seems clear that Peto is the Prince's servant and that the news of the dozen captains are incidental to his main message and should not connect him with Falstaff. When Hal then leaves for the wars the Quarto notes his exit with Poins (Exeunt). The Folio varies by reading simply Exit, but this does not necessarily indicate that in the Folio version Poins was left behind, for a singular exit is not uncommon for a group, as shown by the direction for Falstaff and his companions below. This latter direction consists only of the word Exit in the corrected Quarto, no direction being present in the uncorrected state. Some editors follow Capell in assigning Peto his exit with Hal and Poins, despite the specific direction of the Quarto which lists only Poins. Others give Peto an exit with Bardolph and Falstaff, filling in with names the laconic QF direction. It is possible that Peto leaves the stage (and is not heard from again) after the delivery of his message, a desirable exit that would neatly preserve his slightly ambiguous attachment. (Also, after his hurried journey he might well want food and drink, and would go elsewhere in the tavern to company more suited to his station.) But if, instead, he is to leave with one or other party, the revised version of Part One suggests strongly that his exit should be made with the Prince and Poins.

On the example of Poins, Shakespeare need not have felt himself bound in Part Two to observe for Peto the theatrical exigencies that developed in Part One. Thus the substitution of the Page, a superior comic character, as a follower of Falstaff and Bardolph could have been a quite independent development. That Peto has no connection with them in Part Two is indicated significantly in the Quarto direction for Bardolph's entrance to Shallow in III.ii, which reads 'Enter Bardolph and one with him' (not Peto) whereas the Folio—with whatever doubtful authority it may possess for the staging—substitutes 'Bardolph and his Boy.' Since the Quarto is certainly closer to Shakespeare's papers than the Folio, it can be argued that in this entrance Bardolph


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in military dress was accompanied by some common soldier as an indication of the approaching wars. That the Page could make his entrance (although not noted) later with Falstaff is possible although there are some objections.[13] We cannot be sure whether the Folio's perhaps inappropriate substitution of the Page for the "one," or common soldier, as first visualized by Shakespeare, was a theatrical economy or an act of supererogation on the part of the scribe who made up the copy that lies behind the Folio. For the matter at hand, it is enough that Shakespeare had an opportunity here to reintroduce Peto as a member of Falstaff's party and that he did not take it.

The evidence of 2 Henry IV, therefore, has no direct application to the problem of the original form of Part One in respect to Peto, the more especially since as a sequel it would not have been written before Shakespeare had quite completed Part One[14] and, on the evidence, the company had


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worked out the casting assignments. It may be said that Shakespeare was desperate for any device to fill out a relatively thin play, the first part of which had to be substantially carried by Falstaff. Hence the earlier scenes involving the Page were more useful in sustaining the comic dialogue (for there is little action) than anything that might have been invented for Peto. Later, when action has evolved, the Page subsides into a mute. That the Page can be justified as an independent creation and substitute for Peto does not imply that Peto's role in Part Two was not influenced by the theatrical revision reflected in the preserved Part One text, for indeed it was. Peto's role as Hal's messenger in Part Two ignores the vestigial anomalous reference to him in Part One IV.ii as Falstaff's lieutenant in the wars, and in placing him as Hal's messenger and never associating him directly with Bardolph or Falstaff Part Two continues Peto's switch to Hal's party that constituted the theatrical revision of Part One. However, since Poins once more is back as Hal's personal attendant, Peto's Part Two role is no more than a token one.



In addition to the unlikelihood of Po. being used as an abbreviation in the text and becoming confused with Pe., Dr. Peter Davison, the editor of the New Penguin edition, points out that in direct address Hal calls Poins Ned. However, since the speech-prefixes for Peto appear twice before his name comes in the text, it is not probable that a confusion about the name in the Prince's address caused the substitution. Instead, one would need to hypothesize that because of the mistake he had made in the speech-prefixes a conscientious compositor substituted Peto's name for Poins's in Hal's speech. Not only does this require double error by extension, but also it will not explain the appearance of Peto for Poins in III.iii. Thus it is difficult to take seriously any hypothesis that the substitution was created by an error.


His absence from the direction for the Prince's entrance need not be significant. Although Bardolph is specified as entering with Falstaff at the start of the scene, the group entrance in II.iv of Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill is noted only as 'Enter Falstaffe.'


Bowers, "The Copy for Shakespeare's Julius Cœsar," South Atlantic Bulletin, 43 (November 1978), 23-36.


Poins seems to be socially and professionally a considerable distance above the hangers-on Bardolph and Peto. His high spirits and superior intelligence make him a suitable companion-attendant to Prince Hal and it is not shocking to contemplate him as a competent officer in the war. (Peto's lieutenancy is Falstaff's creation and is meant to be comic.) Moreover, how Hal's servant Peto, with whom he must ride thirty miles before dinner at the end of III.iii, becomes in IV.ii Falstaff's lieutenant although Hal has not seen Falstaff before this encounter is not to be rationalized.


It would be amusing if Shakespearean revision had later inserted this much debated soliloquy in order to provide the necessary time for Poins's change; but of course there is no evidence, Worcester is not necessarily the part doubled, and any such proposition cannot be seriously advanced. Nevertheless, this soliloquy is necessary if the actor of Worcester had doubled as Poins.


We know so little about doubling in Shakespeare's company as to be uncertain how much the tradition would allow a switch from Worcester to Poins, back to Worcester, then to Poins, then finally to Worcester instead of the single interlude offered by the part of Mortimer or of Glendower, which would resemble the interlude where Cassius doubles as Ligarius. If one is right in suspecting that the back and forth shuttling was to be avoided, then Glendower may become the prime candidate (see footnote 12 below).


If Worcester had doubled as Poins, Worcester's entry at the beginning of IV.i would, of course, have made it impossible for Poins to have left the stage with Hal substantially at the end of III.iii. However, if Poins had made his exit at the command 'to horse, to horse,' there might well have been time for a change of costume. Indeed, the exit of Poins-Peto at this point is preferable to one with Hal after his instructions to Falstaff, if one wants to be scrupulous, since it would be one of the attendant's duties to see that the horses were ready for the journey. The line at which Poins-Peto should exit is an editorial option, for the Quarto is silent.


Indeed, a switch back to Poins in III.iii would have emphasized the inexplicable switch to Peto at the end of II.iv.


W. W. Greg, The Editorial Problem in Shakespeare (2nd ed. 1951), pp. 128-129; Alice Walker, Textual Problems in the First Folio (1953), p. 111. Of course it could have been the promptbook itself, but the characteristics of the Quarto by no means encourage such a speculation. Moreover, that a promptbook would be sent to the printer at this early date in the play's history is most improbable.


It must be admitted that the case for an intermediate transcript is not so certain as with Julius Cœsar, for the 1 Henry IV Quarto is much more irregular in respect to such details as the forms of speech-prefixes that were made entirely regular by the scribe in Julius Cœsar. The absence, also, of many necessary exits and of characters in entrances suggests that any fair copy had been pretty much a literal one, attested also by the variant forms of Falstaff's and even of Hal's name. The matter needs further study, especially to test Dr. Walker's impression (for it is little more) that some stiffness in the dialogue associates the Quarto copy with the scribe who prepared the manuscript on which the Folio 2 Henry IV was based. If Shakespeare's manuscript did not require a fair copy before the company could begin to prepare the play for production, then the theatrical alterations could have been made in his working papers and the need for an intermediate transcript between his foul papers and the promptbook would be removed. In this connection, of course, one must consider the revision of the names involving Falstaff and perhaps some rewriting also as a consequence. The matter is obscure and subject chiefly to speculation: the strong evidence for a transcript in Julius Cœsar is wanting in 1 Henry IV even though an overview of the whole situation might well suggest the need.


Possibly one other change has been made in the speech-prefix assignments. It is interesting that the direction that follows Hal's order to search Falstaff's pockets reads, 'He searcheth his pocket, and findeth certaine papers.' This he is not the Prince, of course, but Peto. The next lines are:

What hast thou found?

Nothing but papers my Lord.

Lets see what they be, read them.
Item a capon 2.s,ii,d.
Item sawce iiij,d.

The literal interpretation of the Prince's line 'Lets see what they be, read them' would take it not that the Prince reaches out for the papers to examine them himself, but instead that the revelation of what they are will result from Peto's reading them aloud. Yet the lack of a speech-prefix before the inventory and before Hal's subsequent speech, 'O monstrous! . . .' indicates that Hal reads, in contradiction to his order to Peto. Some early editors trusted to the command more than to the lack of speech-prefix and emended to have Poins-Peto read the list. Their instinct may have been sound, for there is no problem whether Poins or the Prince reads. But such a problem could exist were Peto the reader. His speech, we may suppose, was strongly accented. More to the point, even if he were not understood to be illiterate by the audience's perception of his speech and persona, it would scarcely be in character for Peto to read off the list without stumbling and halting and thus to little purpose getting in the way of the comic climax. It is possible, therefore, to speculate that the transfer of the reading of the list from Poins to Hal was made when Peto was substituted in this scene. If so, an editor should restore Poins as the reader.


That he might have had a talent for assuming a Welsh accent is a possible speculation, especially since the role of the weak but charming Mortimer requires no special actor. (It seems clear that Cassius doubled Ligarius not because of the shortage of available actors but because of the physique of this one actor.) On the whole, as a pure guess Glendower remains the best bet, and for special reasons.


That the Page would be a mute in III.ii is no argument against his presence, given the fact that his importance steadily diminishes after I.ii and II.ii so that he has only two speeches of four and five words respectively in II.iv and is a mute character in V.i,iii,v; nor is the lack of a formal entrance for him with Falstaff any real bar given the fact that he is skipped in V.i in the Quarto, (but not in the Folio) although he is addressed by Shallow and must be present. (This is to assume that the suitable Folio direction in III.ii bringing him on with Bardolph is unauthoritative.) The most serious objection to his appearance in this scene is the contrast with V.i where Shallow first welcomes Falstaff, then Bardolph, and finally the Boy. In III.ii, on the other hand, Shallow greets Bardolph and the "one with him" as "honest gentlemen," an unlikely expression if the Boy were in fact Bardolph's companion as in the Folio. Then, when Falstaff enters (with no indication of a companion in the direction), Shallow welcomes only him, a strong suggestion that the Boy has not entered as well. If we pursue this hint, we may notice that the Boy accompanies Falstaff alone only in I.ii where the Quarto direction describes him as "his page"; in II.i, as "the boy" he comes on with Falstaff and Bardolph; but in II.ii he enters as "boy" with Bardolph and as "Bardolph's boy" also alone with Bardolph in II.iv. There is something in favor of the argument, then, that since he cannot follow Bardolph in III.ii (Q direction and Shallow's form of greeting), it is less likely that an entrance shortly with Falstaff has been inadvertently omitted for a mute character (the Page's apparent transfer to Bardolph once his function as an instigator of wit in Falstaff has been satisfied, and also his omission from Shallow's welcome to Falstaff). Quite properly, the Boy does not appear with Falstaff during the battle in IV.iii, nor does he enter with Bardolph when, the battle over, Falstaff proposes to return through Gloucestershire to revisit Shallow. Nevertheless, the Page is present in V.i when the visit is made: the Boy has not been left behind in London after II.iv while the rest go to the wars. It is a legitimate question, then, why if he is present on the return he was not in the party on the advance. Since speculation is alone possible, no entirely satisfactory answer can perhaps be advanced. Simple inadvertence is always possible here, for Shakespeare must have had his reasons for not bringing him on with Bardolph, and there is some evidence, certainly, in Shallow's greeting, and just possibly in the direction, that he did not accompany Falstaff. In fact, the substitution of the common soldier as Bardolph's companion may be as significant for the Boy as it is for Peto. That is, the Boy has no place in the wars, the audience knows, and to introduce him on the way to battle might have risked a break with the audience's sense of propriety and thus with the illusion of reality. But in peace, there is no risk in his following Falstaff again, though as a mute. It would be a rare audience that would notice the discrepancy, or—if noticing—care.


The exact relationship of 2 Henry IV to Part One is much debated but never decided. One school of thought has it that Shakespeare had planned the two parts from the start as a ten-act play. Other critics more realistically believe that the popularity of Part One provoked the sequel, which on the evidence of its single quarto was not markedly popular. A middle ground is suggested by Harold Jenkins in The Structural Problem in Shakespeare's Henry the Fourth (1956). The question is not crucial here, for insofar as the concern is with the Falstaff-Peto-Page equation, it seems clear that the structure of the comic action in 2 Henry IV takes account of the theatrically altered text of Part One and therefore has detached Peto from Falstaff.