Sam’s going off to go grab his father and bring him to safety. Our hobbits are splitting up!
That leaves Frodo and Merry, who listen to Farmer Cotton’s story of how Lotho Sackville-Baggins took control of the Shire.
It began shortly after Frodo and his friends left the Shire, with Lotho now entrenched as the owner of Bag End. He had quite a bit of money inherited from his father’s (Otho Sackville-Baggins) holdings of land in the Southfarthing. Lotho began to buy more property across the Shire, and Hobbiton in particular. He also started shipping goods out of the Shire, notably the pipe-weed. Hobbits started to be bothered by this, but that was when Lotho’s cavalry arrived in the form of the ruffians. They set about making rules and shutting the locals down. When the Mayor of the Shire, Will Whitfoot, had seen too much, he made up his mind to go to Hobbiton and have a talk with Lotho, but he was taken and locked up before he had the chance. Others soon followed him. Things got worse from then on, with Lotho ruling the Shire unchecked.
The structure of today’s page brings back something we haven’t seen in some time: storytelling! In the beginning, this was all over. Gandalf told stories of the earlier ages, and he, Elrond, and others told tales at the Council of Elrond. We got used to hearing stories of previous events in long form. It hasn’t happened so much lately, with little time to sit down and listen.
I got a little tired of the long tales early on, but now I welcome Cotton’s story. Storytelling is the root of all this, of course. Hey, don’t forget that the framing device of the entire novel is that it’s really being written down as Frodo’s memoir. It’s all just one big story-tell!
Finally, I want to have a little talk about political-economic themes. Yeah, let’s do that.
Lotho takes over the Shire with a simple act of capitalism. In a sense, he’s an old-money hobbit. He has lands to profit off of from his father, and it sounds like some of those must be some of the most profitable lands a hobbit could have: pipe-weed fields in the Southfarthing. When Saruman comes to power at Isengard, he needs an ally to supply his growing forces. He purchases pipe-weed, among other things, from Lotho, which makes Lotho a lot of money. Lotho then buys more land and goods. Saruman can then buy those goods from Lotho. The cycle continues until Lotho owns most of the Shire, and Saruman has himself a strong foothold there. He can send men to support Lotho when they no longer fit his needs at Isengard.
And so, Lotho buys the Shire. It’s all in the economics.
Words My Computer Didn’t Like:
Yeah, the very first word of this page betrays us all.
No one dies today.
“‘There wasn’t no smoke left, save for the Men; and the Chief didn’t hold with beer, save for his Men, and closed all the inns; and everything except Rules got shorter and shorter, unless one could hide a bit of one’s own when the ruffians went round gathering stuff…'”