from writings of
J. R. R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien

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Smith of Wootton Major
Farmer Giles of Ham
The Children of Húrin

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the Inklings

fantasy

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Smith of Wootton Major

Copyright © 1967 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

No doubt some who deserved to be asked were overlooked, and some who did not were invited by mistake; for that is the way of things, however careful those who arrange such matters may try to be.

Topic:

Justice

For by that time he was the best smith between Far Easton and the Westwood, and he could make all kinds of things of iron in his smithy. Most of them, of course, were plain and useful, meant for daily needs: farm tools, carpenters’ tools, kitchen tools and pots and pans, bars and bolts and hinges, pot-hooks, fire-dogs, and horse-shoes, and the like. They were strong and lasting, but they also had a grace about them, being shapely in their kinds, good to handle and to look at.

But some things, when he had time, he made for delight; and they were beautiful, for he could work iron into wonderful forms that looked as light and delicate as a spray of leaves and blossom, but kept the stern strength of iron, or seemed even stronger. Few could pass by one of the gates or lattices that he made without stopping to admire it; no one could pass through once it was shut. He sang when he was making things of this sort; and when Smith began to sing those nearby stopped their own work and came to the smithy to listen.

Topic:

Blacksmiths

He remained a learner and explorer, not a warrior; and though in time he could have forged weapons that in his own world would have had power enough to become the matter of great tales and be worth a king’s ransom, he knew that in Faery they would have been of small account. So among all the things that he made it is not remembered that he ever forged a sword or a spear or an arrow-head.

Topic:

Weaponry

“It came to me, and may a man not keep things that come to him so, at the least as a remembrance?”

“Some things. Those that are free gifts and given for remembrance. But others are not so given. They cannot belong to a man for ever, nor be treasured as heirlooms. They are lent. You have not thought, perhaps, that someone else may need this thing. But it is so.”

text checked (see note) Sep 2007

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Farmer Giles of Ham

Copyright © 1949 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

The time was not one of hurry or bustle. But bustle has very little to do with business. Men did their work without it; and they got through a deal both of work and of talk.

He had become the Hero of the Countryside. Very pleasant he found it. Next market day he got enough free drink to float a boat: that is to say, he nearly had his fill, and came home singing old heroic songs.

Topic:

Heroes

It was still the custom for Dragon’s Tail to be served up at the King’s Christmas Feast; and each year a knight was chosen for the duty of hunting. He was supposed to set out upon St. Nicholas’ Day and come home with a dragon’s tail not later than the eve of the feast. But for many years now the Royal Cook had made a marvellous confection, a Mock Dragon’s Tail of cake and almond-paste, with cunning scales of hard icing-sugar. The chosen knight then carried this into the hall on Christmas Eve, while the fiddles played and the trumpets rang. The Mock Dragon’s Tail was eaten after dinner on Christmas Day, and everybody said (to please the cook) that it tasted much better than Real Tail.

Indeed, messengers were now reaching the King from the villages most afflicted by Chrysophylax, and they said to him as loudly and as often as they dared: “Lord, what of your knights?”

But the knights did nothing; their knowledge of the dragon was still quite unofficial. So the King brought the matter to their notice, fully and formally, asking for necessary action at their earliest convenience. He was greatly displeased when he found that their convenience would not be early at all, and was indeed daily postponed.

[...] Giles and the miller were always giving one another as good as they got, being bosom enemies, as the saying was in Ham.

The next day the dragon moved to the neighbouring village of Quercetum (Oakley in the vulgar tongue). He ate not only sheep and cows and one or two persons of tender age, but he ate the parson too. Rather rashly the parson had sought to dissuade him from his evil ways.

Topic:

Clergy

“A bad omen,” he said cheerfully.

Many days passed and no news came. “No news is bad news,” he said, and burst into song.

Topic:

Pessimism

“Dragon-marks,” said he.

“Lead on!” said they.

He came round a shoulder of the mountain like a ton of thunderbolts, with a noise like a gale and a gust of red lightning.

The argument concerning precedence stopped short. All the horses shied to one side or the other, and some of the knights fell off. The ponies and the baggage and the servants turned and ran at once. They had no doubt as to the order of precedence.

“if you will leave me what remains,” said he very wily, “I’ll be your friend for ever. And I will carry all this treasure back to your honour’s own house and not to the King’s. And I will help you to keep it, what is more,” said he.

Then the farmer took out a toothpick with his left hand, and he thought very hard for a minute. Then “Done with you!” he said, showing a laudable discretion. A knight would have stood out for the whole hoard and got a curse laid upon it.

“To the devil with you and your insolence! No reward will you get after this; and you will be lucky if you escape hanging. And hanged you shall be, unless you beg our pardon here and now, and give us back our sword.”

“Eh?” said Giles. “I have got my reward, I reckon. Finding’s keeping, and keeping’s having, we say here. And I reckon Tailbiter is better with me than with your folk. But what are all these knights and men for, by any chance?” he asked. “If you’ve come on a visit, you’d be welcome with fewer. If you want to take me away, you’ll need a lot more.”

Topic:

Defiance

Chrysophylax remained long in Ham, much to the profit of Giles, for the man who has a tame dragon is naturally respected.

Topic:

Dragons

text checked (see note) Sep 2007

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The Children of Húrin
Narn i Chîn Húrin

Edited by Christopher Tolkien

Copyright © 2007 by the J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust and Christopher Reuel Tolkien

Chapter I
The Childhood of Túrin
‘But alas! my love of battle was sated, for I had seen spilled blood and wounds enough; and I got leave to come back to the woods that I yearned for. And there I got my hurt; for a man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.’
‘But one who looks forward must see this: that things will not remain as they were. This will be a great throw, and one side must fall lower than it now stands. [...] But if things do go ill, I will not say to you: Do not be afraid! For you fear what should be feared, and that only; and fear does not dismay you. But I say: Do not wait!
‘But have a care! It is a bitter blade, and steel serves only those that can wield it. It will cut your hand as willingly as aught else.’

Topic:

Weaponry

Chapter III
The Words of Húrin and Morgoth

‘I am the Elder King: Melkor, first and mightiest of all the Valar, who was before the world, and made it. The shadow of my purpose lies upon Arda, and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will. But upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. [...] They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death.’

But Húrin answered: ‘Do you forget to whom you speak? Such things you spoke long ago to our fathers; but we escaped from your shadow. And now we have knowledge of you, for we have looked on the faces that have seen the Light, and heard the voices that have spoken with Manwë. Before Arda you were, but others also; and you did not make it. Neither are you the most mighty; for you have spent your strength upon yourself and wasted it in your own emptiness. No more are you now than an escaped thrall of the Valar, and their chain still awaits you.’

‘You have learned the lessons of your masters by rote,’ said Morgoth. ‘But such childish lore will not help you, now they are all fled away.’

‘This last then I will say to you, thrall Morgoth,’ said Húrin, ‘and it comes not from the lore of the Eldar, but is put into my heart at this hour. You are not the Lord of Men, and shall not be, though all Arda and Menel fall in your dominion. Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you.’

‘Beyond the Circles of the World I will not pursue them,’ said Morgoth. ‘For beyond the Circles of the World there is Nothing. But within them they shall not escape me, until they enter into Nothing.’

‘You lie,’ said Húrin.

Compare to:

Sam Harris

Chapter IV
The Departure of Túrin

‘False hopes are more dangerous than fears,’ said Sador, ‘and they will not keep us warm this winter.’ He fingered the carving on the chair, and sighed. ‘I wasted my time,’ he said, ‘though the hours seemed pleasant. But all such things are short-lived, and the joy in the making is their only true end, I guess.’

Topic:

Art

‘But whenever I say that I will do this or that, it looks very different when the time comes. Now I am unwilling. I must take care not to say such things again.’

‘It would be best indeed,’ said Sador. ‘So most men teach, and few men learn. Let the unseen days be. Today is more than enough.’

Chapter VIII
The Land of Bow and Helm

Then Morgoth withheld his hand; though he made frequent feint of attack, so that by easy victory the confidence of these rebels might become overweening.

Topic:

Tactics

‘A king or the lord of a great host has many needs. He must have a secure refuge; and he must have wealth, and many whose work is not in war. With numbers comes the need of food, more than the wild will furnish to hunters. And there comes the passing of secrecy.’
Chapter XI
The Fall of Nargothrond
‘For they use courtesy, and they listen to good counsel, holding the Lords of the West in awe. But you, it seems, will take counsel with your own wisdom, or with your sword only; and you speak haughtily.’

text checked (see note) Nov 2007

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