"And blessed are those

Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,

That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger

To sound what stop she please"

Something else I'd like to know is about the grammatical structure of "To sound what stop she please". Seems strange to me! Could you be more specific about that?

  • Pipe = flute-like instrument. Stop. Compare the "stops" on a pipe organ. These blessed people have such an even temperament that they are not merely an instrument for (Dame) Fortune to play on, sounding whatever note might please her. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 27 '16 at 17:34
  • perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 27 '16 at 17:42
  • or "whatever note she may find pleasing to her". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 27 '16 at 17:44
  • @TRomano:I'm sorry,but I still didn't catch what you said about it..:( – Mia Mar 27 '16 at 17:51
  • What specifically do you not understand? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 27 '16 at 18:19

Shakespeare's works are full of language like this. In less flowery language, the Bard is saying that these people take their fates into their own hands and are NOT at the mercy of whatever fortune, good or ill, the world may bring them. The people he describes are those with both good judgment and the courage to act. That's what he means by "blood and judgment so well commingled".

You would not hear language like this in modern discourse, though you might read it in poetry occasionally. Structurally:

... a pipe for Fortune's finger
to sound what stop she please

This phrase describes Fortune's finger playing the stops (holes) on the pipe according to her own desires.

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  • @RobertMunn.Thank you.I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the work you are doing here.Thanks for your assistance – Mia Mar 28 '16 at 10:04

It may be worth noting that the contrast being expressed is between Hamlet and his rock-steady friend Horatio. Hamlet is enlisting Horatio's aid in discovering whether King Claudius will react in a self-incriminating way to the play (play-within-the-play) that is about to be performed for the court. Hamlet at this point is plagued equally by suspicion and doubt, and is telling his friend that he needs to rely on a steadier judgment than his own. When he says

And blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger

he means someone not as passionate and over-wrought as he is. To put it in plainer English:

Look, Horatio, I'm quite knocked about by my passions so that I can't rely on my own judgment. Do me a favor and let me rely on your good sense and judgment, for though I am flitting about in fits of passion, which may make me deceive myself, you are a rock on whose judgment I can depend.

Sounds better the way Shakespeare says it, of course, but that's what he means.

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  • @Robusto.I really appreciate your help.Thank you. I would really like to choose both answers.Both are right.They complement each other. But It seems we are only allowed to choose one answer:( – Mia Mar 28 '16 at 10:02

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