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  1. This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a
  2. reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history.
  3. Further information will also be found in the selection from the Red Book of
  4. Westmarch that has already been published, under the title of The Hobbit.
  5. That story was derived from the earlier chapters of the Red Book, composed
  6. by Bilbo himself, the first Hobbit to become famous in the world at large,
  7. and called by him There and Back Again, since they told of his journey into
  8. the East and his return: an adventure which later involved all the Hobbits
  9. in the great events of that Age that are here related.
  10.  
  11. Many, however, may wish to know more about this remarkable people
  12. from
  13.  
  14. the outset, while some may not possess the earlier book. For such readers a
  15. few notes on the more important points are here collected from Hobbit-lore,
  16. and the first adventure is briefly recalled.
  17.  
  18. Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous
  19. formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled
  20. earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt.
  21. They do not and did not understand or like machines more complicated than a
  22. forge -bellows, a water-mill, or a hand-loom, though they were skilful with
  23. tools. Even in ancient days they were, as a rule, shy of 'the Big Folk', as
  24. they call us, and now they avoid us with dismay and are becoming hard to
  25. find. They are quick of hearing and sharp-eyed, and though they are inclined
  26. to be fat and do not hurry unnecessarily, they are nonetheless nimble and
  27. deft in their movements. They possessed from the first the art of
  28. disappearing swiftly and silently, when large folk whom they do not wish to
  29. meet come blundering by; and this an they have developed until to Men it may
  30. seem magical. But Hobbits have never, in fact, studied magic of any kind,
  31. and their elusiveness is due solely to a professional skill that heredity
  32. and practice, and a close friendship with the earth, have rendered
  33.  
  34.  
  35.  
  36.  
  37. inimitable by bigger and clumsier races.
  38.  
  39. For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves: less tout and
  40. stocky, that is, even when they are not actually much shorter. Their height
  41. is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. They seldom
  42. now reach three feet; but they hive dwindled, they say, and in ancient days
  43. they were taller. According to the Red Book, Bandobras Took (Bullroarer),
  44. son of Isengrim the Second, was four foot five and able to ride a horse. He
  45. was surpassed in all Hobbit records only by two famous characters of old;
  46. but that curious matter is dealt with in this book.
  47.  
  48. As for the Hobbits of the Shire, with whom these tales are concerned,
  49. in the days of their peace and prosperity they were a merry folk. They
  50. dressed in bright colours, being notably fond of yellow and green; but they
  51. seldom wore shoes, since their feet had tough leathery soles and were clad
  52. in a thick curling hair, much like the hair of their heads, which was
  53. commonly brown. Thus, the only craft little practised among them was
  54. shoe-making; but they had long and skilful fingers and could make many other
  55. useful and comely things. Their faces were as a rule good-natured rather
  56. than beautiful, broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked, with mouths apt to
  57. laughter, and to eating and drinking. And laugh they did, and eat, and
  58. drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of
  59. six meals a day (when they could get them). They were hospitable and
  60. delighted in parties, and in presents, which they gave away freely and
  61. eagerly accepted.
  62.  
  63. It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are
  64. relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. Of old
  65. they spoke the languages of Men, after their own fashion, and liked and
  66. disliked much the same things as Men did. But what exactly our relationship
  67. is can no longer be discovered. The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in
  68. the Elder Days that are now lost and forgotten. Only the Elves still
  69. preserve any records of that vanished time, and their traditions are
  70. concerned almost entirely with their own history, in which Men appear seldom
  71. and Hobbits are not mentioned at all. Yet it is clear that Hobbits had, in
  72. fact, lived quietly in Middle-earth for many long years before other folk
  73. became even aware of them. And the world being after all full of strange
  74. creatures beyond count, these little people seemed of very little
  75. importance. But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly
  76. became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled
  77.  
  78.  
  79.  
  80.  
  81. the counsels of the Wise and the Great.
  82.  
  83. Those days, the Third Age of Middle -earth, are now long past, and the
  84. shape of all lands has been changed; but the regions in which Hobbits then
  85. lived were doubtless the same as those in which they still linger: the
  86. North-West of the Old World, east of the Sea. Of their original home the
  87. Hobbits in Bilbo's time preserved no knowledge. A love of learning (other
  88. than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained
  89. still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even
  90. gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and
  91. Men. Their own records began only after the settlement of the Shire, and
  92. their most ancient legends hardly looked further back than their Wandering
  93. Days. It is clear, nonetheless, from these legends, and from the evidence of
  94. their peculiar words and customs, that like many other folk Hobbits had in
  95. the distant past moved westward. Their earliest tales seem to glimpse a time
  96. when they dwelt in the upper vales of Anduin, between the eaves of
  97. Greenwood
  98.  
  99. the Great and the Misty Mountains. Why they later undertook the hard and
  100. perilous crossing of the mountains into Eriador is no longer certain. Their
  101. own accounts speak of the multiplying of Men in the land, and of a shadow
  102. that fell on the forest, so that it became darkened and its new name was
  103. Mirkwood.
  104.  
  105. Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become
  106. divided into three somewhat different breeds: Harfoots, Stoors, and
  107. Fallohides. The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and
  108. they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble;
  109. and they preferred highlands and hillsides. The Stoors were broader, heavier
  110. in build; their feet and hands were larger, and they preferred flat lands
  111. and riversides. The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair, and
  112. they were taller and slimmer than the others; they were lovers of trees and
  113. of woodlands.
  114.  
  115. The Harfoots had much to do with Dwarves in ancient times, and long
  116. lived in the foothills of the mountains. They moved westward early, and
  117. roamed over Eriador as far as Weathertop while the others were still in the
  118. Wilderland. They were the most normal and representative variety of Hobbit,
  119. and far the most numerous. They were the most inclined to settle in one
  120. place, and longest preserved their ancestral habit of living in tunnels and
  121. holes.
  122.  
  123.  
  124.  
  125.  
  126. The Stoors lingered long by the banks of the Great River Anduin, and
  127. were less shy of Men. They came west after the Harfoots and followed the
  128. course of the Loudwater southwards; and there many of them long dwelt
  129. between Tharbad and the borders of Dunland before they moved north again.
  130.  
  131. The Fallohides, the least numerous, were a northerly branch. They were
  132. more friendly with Elves than the other Hobbits were, and had more skill in
  133. language and song than in handicrafts; and of old they preferred hunting to
  134. tilling. They crossed the mountains north of Rivendell and came down the
  135. River Hoarwell. In Eriador they soon mingled with the other kinds that had
  136. preceded them, but being somewhat bolder and more adventurous, they were
  137. often found as leaders or chieftains among clans of Harfoots or Stoors. Even
  138. in Bilbo's time the strong Fallohidish strain could still be noted among the
  139. greater families, such as the Tooks and the Masters of Buckland.
  140.  
  141. In the westlands of Eriador, between the Misty Mountains and the
  142. Mountains of Lune, the Hobbits found both Men and Elves. Indeed, a remnant
  143. still dwelt there of the D®nedain, the kings of Men that came over the Sea
  144. out of Westernesse; but they were dwindling fast and the lands of their
  145. North Kingdom were falling far and wide into waste. There was room and to
  146. spare for incomers, and ere long the Hobbits began to settle in ordered
  147. communities. Most of their earlier settlements had long disappeared and been
  148. forgotten in Bilbo's time; but one of the first to become important still
  149. endured, though reduced in size; this was at Bree and in the Chetwood that
  150. lay round about, some forty miles east of the Shire.
  151.  
  152. It was in these early days, doubtless, that the Hobbits learned their
  153. letters and began to write after the manner of the D®nedain, who had in
  154. their turn long before learned the art from the Elves. And in those days
  155. also they forgot whatever languages they had used before, and spoke ever
  156. after the Common Speech, the Westron as it was named, that was current
  157. through all the lands of the kings from Arnor to Gondor, and about all the
  158. coasts of the Sea from B elf alas to Lune. Yet they kept a few words of their
  159. own, as well as their own names of months and days, and a great store of
  160. personal names out of the past.
  161.  
  162. About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a
  163. reckoning of years. For it was in the one thousand six hundred and first
  164. year of the Third Age that the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, set
  165. out from Bree; and having obtained permission from the high king at
  166. Fornostl, they crossed the brown river Baranduin with a great following of
  167.  
  168.  
  169.  
  170.  
  171. Hobbits. They passed over the Bridge of Stonebows, that had been built in
  172. the days of the power of the North Kingdom, and they took ail the land
  173. beyond to dwell in, between the river and the Far Downs. All that was
  174. demanded of them was that they should keep the Great Bridge in repair, and
  175. all other bridges and roads, speed the king's messengers, and acknowledge
  176. his lordship.
  177.  
  178. Thus began the Shire-reckoning, for the year of the crossing of the
  179. Brandywine (as the Hobbits turned the name) became Year One of the Shire,
  180. and all later dates were reckoned from it. 2 At once the western Hobbits fell
  181. in love with their new land, and they remained there, and soon passed once
  182. more out of the history of Men and of Elves. While there was still a king
  183. they were in name his subjects, but they were, in fact, ruled by their own
  184. chieftains and meddled not at all with events in the world outside. To the
  185. last battle at Fornost with the Witch-lord of Angmar they sent some bowmen
  186. to the aid of the king, or so they maintained, though no tales of Men record
  187. it. But in that war the North Kingdom ended; and then the Hobbits took the
  188. land for their own, and they chose from their own chiefs a Thain to hold the
  189. authority of the king that was gone. There for a thousand years they were
  190. little troubled by wars, and they prospered and multiplied after the Dark
  191. Plague (S.R. 37) until the disaster of the Long Winter and the famine that
  192. followed it. Many thousands then perished, but the Days of Dearth (1158-60)
  193. were at the time of this tale long past and the Hobbits had again become
  194. accustomed to plenty. The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long
  195. been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and
  196. there the king had once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards, and woods.
  197.  
  198. Forty leagues it stretched from the Far Downs to the Brandywine Bridge,
  199. and fifty from the northern moors to the marshes in the south. The Hobbits
  200. named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a
  201. district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant comer of the
  202. world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less
  203. and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think
  204. that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all
  205. sensible folk. They forgot or ignored what little they had ever known of the
  206. Guardians, and of the labours of those that made possible the long peace of
  207. the Shire. They were, in fact, sheltered, but they had ceased to remember
  208. it.
  209.  
  210. At no time had Hobbits of any kind been warlike, and they had never
  211.  
  212.  
  213.  
  214.  
  215. fought among themselves. In olden days they had, of course, been often
  216. obliged to fight to maintain themselves in a hard world; but in Bilbo's time
  217. that was very ancient history. The last battle, before this story opens, and
  218. indeed the only one that had ever been fought within the borders of the
  219. Shire, was beyond living memory: the Battle of Greenfields, S.R. 1147, in
  220. which Bandobras Took routed an invasion of Ores. Even the weathers had
  221. grown
  222.  
  223. milder, and the wolves that had once come ravening out of the North in
  224. bitter white winters were now only a grandfather's tale. So, though there
  225. was still some store of weapons in the Shire, these were used mostly as
  226. trophies, hanging above hearths or on walls, or gathered into the museum at
  227. Michel Delving. The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits
  228. had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a
  229. mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms,
  230. and
  231.  
  232. many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that son.
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