King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 6

page Act 4 Scene 6 Page 5

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90peace, this piece of toasted cheese will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet. I’ll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird. I' th' clout, i' th' clout. Hewgh! Give the word.
piece of cheese will get him.—I challenge you to a match. I’ll even fight a giant.—Call out the infantry. —Oh, that arrow was well shot. Whoosh! Right in the bull’s eye.–—What’s the password?

EDGAR

Sweet marjoram.

EDGAR

Sweet marjoram.

LEAR

95Pass.

LEAR

That’s it!

GLOUCESTER

I know that voice.

GLOUCESTER

I know that voice.

LEAR

Ha! Goneril with a white beard? Ha, Regan? They flattered me like a dog and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say “Ay” and “No” to everything that I said “Ay” and “No” to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding—there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

LEAR

Ha! Goneril with a white beard? Ha, Regan?—They flattered me and told me how wise I was, wise before my time. To agree to everything I said was not truly devout.—The rain came to drench me, and the wind to make me shiver, and the thunder wouldn’t stop roaring when I ordered it to. That’s when I learned the truth about them. That’s when I sniffed them out. I tell you, they are not honest men. They told me I was everything. It’s a lie. I’m not immune to chills.

GLOUCESTER

The trick of that voice I do well remember.
Is ’t not the king?

GLOUCESTER

I recognize something about that voice. Isn’t that the king?

LEAR

   Ay, every inch a king. When I do stare, see how the subject quakes. I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause? Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No. The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for Gloucester’s bastard son Was kinder to his father than my daughters got ’tween the lawful sheets. To ’t, luxury, pell-mell—for I lack soldiers.

LEAR

Yes, every inch a king. My subjects tremble when I look at them. I pardon that man. What are you accused of? Adultery? I’ll commute your death sentence. To die for adultery? No. Little birds do it, and dragonflies copulate right in front of me. Let’s have more sex in the world, since Gloucester’s bastard son was kinder to him than my daughters, conceived in lawful wedlock, have been to me. Get to it, be lustful, sleep around—I need soldiers for my army. Look at that simpering lady over there. From looking at her face, I’d say she’s