2004-01-04 23:04:24 UTC
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This is the final chapter of /The Hobbit/. I wanted to include some
comments on "The Quest of Erebor," but I haven't got it finished in time -
if I can get it done sometime during the week, I'll post it, otherwise I'm
sure that Aaron is perfectly capable of producing a good transition from
/The Hobbit/ to /The Lord of the Rings/.
*** ---- ***
Bilbo and Gandalf arrive at Rivendell on May the First (a year and three
days after the Unexpected Party). As they ride down into the valley,
"Bilbo heard the elves still singing in the trees, as if they had not
stopped since he left." The song of the elves makes it plain that they
are quite up-to-date about the events in Erebor.
In the evening, Gandalf relates the tale of their adventures to Elrond
(and, presumably, other Elves). It is while listening to this that Bilbo
learns what Gandalf had been up to while he was away from Thorin's
Even though Elrond's "house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep,
or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best,
or a pleasant mixture of them all," Bilbo and Gandalf stays for only a
week in Rivendell. On their way home they pick up the Troll gold that they
and the Dwarves buried on their way out. Bilbo tries to get Gandalf to
take it all, because he has enough, but Gandalf insists on sharing it,
saying, "You may find you have more needs than you expect."
Finally Bilbo can "see his own Hill in the distance," and at that he stops
to speak his "Roads go ever ever on" song, at which Gandalf comment is,
"My dear Bilbo! Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit
that you were." We get to see further changes in Bilbo a little later.
Arriving at Bag End they see a lot of commotion. It turns out that Bilbo
has been "Presumed Dead" and there's an auction going on of his
possessions. The return of Bilbo creates even more commotion, and in
the end Bilbo has to buy back a lot of his own furniture. From this
incident arises also the enmity with the Sackville-Bagginses, which were
to last for 77 years.
Settling in Bilbo doesn't entirely return to his old habits. He remains
"an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk
as ever passed that way". He also discovers that he isn't considered
quite respectable any longer, but he doesn't care as he is quite
Seven years later, as Bilbo is writing his memoires (later to be found and
translated by Prof. Tolkien and published as "The Hobbit" ... ;-) he
receives a visit by Gandalf and Balin. Bilbo and Balin notes each other's
prosperity, and Bilbo learns that the old Master of Lake-town had come to
a bad end trying to escape with a lot of the gold Bard had given him.
The new Master is better, and they are, in Lake-town, making songs saying
that under his rule the rivers run with gold. The last paragraphs are,
"Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be
true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo.
"Of course!" said Gandalf. "And why should not they prove
true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you
had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really
suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were
managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a
very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but
you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the
*** ---- ***
Comments, Points of Interest and Questions:
 Glimpse of the timelessness / preservation powers of Elrond's Ring?
 Given our knowledge of talking birds, and the Communication of
Thought, it is, I deem, not necessary to ask how the elves could know
about Smaug's fall etc.
 Bilbo overhears Gandalf telling Elrond,
... It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of
the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that
they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in
the south of Mirkwood.
"Ere long now," Gandalf was saying, "The Forest will grow
somewhat more wholesome. The North will be freed from that
horror for many long years, I hope. Yet I wish he were
banished from the world!"
"It would be well indeed," said Elrond; "but I fear that
will not come about in this age of the world, or for many
This passage is interesting for several reasons, IMO.
3a: "a great council of the white wizards" - obviously this refers to the
White Council (or rather, it is does later, in the editing of /The
Hobbit/ to fit with the LotR. The question is why Tolkien didn't change
this to 'The White Council'. Also, since Galadriel was the one to first
summon the White Council, wouldn't Elrond be a natural member of it?
3b: Gandalf and Elrond's hopes and fears aren't all that precise, are they
;-) Only ten years lasted before Dol Guldur was occupied by three
Nazgûl, but while Sauron wasn't banished from the world as such (I take
that to imply being thrown into the void as Morgoth was), it would only
be some 77 years before Sauron was vanquished so "that none can foresee
his arising ever again." This passage was subtly changed in the 1966
Ball edition to be in line with LotR. Previously Gandalf had said "The
North is freed from that horror for many an age," which was certainly
 Premonition? A hunch? Or just a lucky guess? Gandalf shows the ability
for this kind of presage in other situations (e.g. warning the Hobbits
of the gate much, much later when returning to the Shire after the War
of the Ring). How shall we interpret this in the context of the Hobbit?
 We learn that Bilbo holds title as "Esquire". I'm not certain how
common this would be in the English countryside at the time when Tolkien
wrote /The Hobbit/, nor of the exact meaning for Bilbo's social standing
(the source of his income prior to his adventure has recently been / is
currently debated), but I do think that it somehow emphasizes the
connection between the Shire of the Hobbits and the English country
 We're told that "The legal bother, indeed, lasted for years." The
Hobbits seem to have had a quite well-developed legal code - see also
the requirements for Bilbo's will in LotR I, 1 and the company in charge
of the auction; "Messrs. Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes." I am alone in
thinking that this points rather heavily towards a monetary economy.
 Is it possible to read anything into this; that Bilbo remained an
elf-friend on one side and "had the honour of dwarves, wizards and all
such folk ..." on the other side? Does this indicate a difference in his
relationship with Elves and Dwarves respectively, or is it just a
 This is, IMO, the clearest sign of the change Gandalf noted as they
neared the Hill - that he is capable of rising above the generally quite
myopic views of the surrounding Hobbit society and not care about it.
 "He fell under the dragon-sickness" - is this another indication of
there being some kind of curse or similar on gold from a dragon's hoard?
 Here we see the idea that there is some kind of other will behind
Bilbo's success. This connects both backwards and forwards (to LotR). In
ch. 8 we read about Bilbo that "... by luck (he was born with a good
share of it) he guessed more or less right, ..." and now Gandalf tells
us that it wasn't "... managed by mere luck, ..." after all. This of
course also relates to Gandalf's words in LotR and /The Quest of Erebor/
(UT) that "Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker, and
you therefore were meant to bear it. And I might have added: and I was
meant guide you both to those points."
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