popular affection for Hamlet would have caused Claudius' shafts to recoil upon himself.
IV. vii. 27. praises . . . again. I.e., if praises may return to what is now no more—viz., Ophelia's natural charm.
IV. vii. 28. challenger on mount. I.e., her worth challenged all the age to deny her perfection. 'Of all the age' qualifies 'challenger,' not 'mount.'
IV. vii. 40. Claudio. A character who does not appear in the play.
IV. vii. 76. siege. Literally 'seat,' thence 'rank,' because people sat at table in order of precedence.
IV. vii. 87. incorps'd and demi-natur'd. I.e., like a Centaur, half horse, half man; Literally, of one body with and half partaking of the nature of his horse.
IV. vii. 89. in . . . tricks. I.e., I could not contrive so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform.
IV. vii. 96. masterly report. I.e., a report describing Laertes as a master of fence.
IV. vii. 112. passages of proof. I.e., instances from practical experience of the world.
IV. vii. 117. plurisy. Often used where today one would say 'plethora.'
IV. vii. 122. spendthrift sigh. A satisfactory paraphrase has not as yet been suggested. The meaning is probably: "the recognition of a 'should' when it is too late is like a wasteful or supererogatory sigh, which pains even while giving relief." The difficulty lies in the adjectival use of 'spendthrift.'
IV. vii. 138. pass of practice. It may mean either (1) a treacherous thrust, or (2) a thrust in which you are practised. The former is more probable.
IV. vii. 141. mountebank. These men were quack-doctors who journeyed from town to town selling miraculous remedies and forbidden poisons.