Letter 154

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“I am more conscious of my sketchiness in the archeology and realien than in the economics: clothes, agricultural implements, metal-working, pottery, architecture and the like. Not to mention music and its apparatus. I am not incapable of or unaware of economic thought; and I think as far as the ‘mortals’ go, Men, Hobbits, and Dwarfs, that the situations are so devised that economic likelihood is there and could be worked out: Gondor has sufficient ‘townlands’ and fiefs with a good water and road approach to provide for its population; and clearly has many industries though these are hardly alluded to. The Shire is placed in a water and mountain situation and a distance from the sea and a latitude that would give it a natural fertility, quite apart from the stated fact that it was a well-tended region when they took it over (no doubt with a good deal of older arts and crafts). The Shire-hobbits have no very great need of metals, but the Dwarfs are agents; and in the east of the Mountains of Lune are some of their mines (as shown in the earlier legends): no doubt, the reason, or one of them, for their often crossing the Shire. Some of the modernities found among them (I think especially of umbrellas) are probably, I think certainly, a mistake, of the same order as their silly names, and tolerable with them only as a deliberate ‘anglicization’ to point the contrast between them and other peoples in the most familiar terms. I do not think people of that sort and stage of life and development can be both peaceable and very brave and tough ‘at a pinch’*. Experience in two wars has confirmed me in that view. But hobbits are not a Utopian vision, or recommended as an idea in their own or any age. They, as all peoples and their situations, are an historical accident—as the Elves point out to Frodo—and an impermanent one in the long view… The chief way in which Hobbits differ from experience is that they are not cruel, and have no blood-sports, and have by implication a feeling for ‘wild creatures’ that are not alas! very commonly found among the nearest contemporary parallels."

CULTURAL; ECON; ARTIFACTS; GONDOR; SHIRE; DWARVES; HOBBITS; 3A