State of the Shire Addresses

Shire HobbitThe American State of the Union address is, I think, a somewhat unique feature of governmental procedure in world history. Kings, emperors, and conquering generals have addressed their councils, senates, and advisors for thousands of years. But how many leaders were constitutionally required to report on the state of their states to a co-governing body before the United States constitution was put into place?

I feel the process has been perverted over the past couple hundred years, just like the principle of Separation of Church and State. The Founding Fathers were afraid to allow any particular religious group gain actual governing power, and thus use that power to advance their religious philosophy. Today’s application of the principle forbids city and county governments from putting Santa Claus on their front lawns because someone may be offended by the presence of “religious iconography”.

Something has been lost in the interpretation of law.

And, of course, now whenever an American president speaks to the nation or its leaders, the opposing party has to have “equal time” to counter every point he makes. I don’t recall the constitutional necessity for boring the American people with ad hominem political rhetoric.

But maybe the worst sin is the fact that presidents now use the State of the Union to advocate their political points of view and mention in a by-the-way manner that the nation has a few problems and some strengths. The sooner we kick politicians out of Washington, the better off we’ll be.

Anyway, now that the ranting is over (and I know people would say this post would be better off without it), I have wondered what some of the Shire leaders would have said, had it been their constitutional duty to report on the State of the Shire.

Take Bucca of the Marish, for example. He was the first Thain of the Shire. Unlike George Washington, who all but predicted the War Between the States, Bucca assumed leadership over a relatively unified Shire. Like Washington, Bucca presided over a nation which had just won its independence in a terrible war. The ancient Kingdom of Arthedain (Arnor) had been destroyed by Angmar, and Aranarth, rightful king of Arnor, elected not to re-establish the monarchy. So the Shire chieftains elected Bucca to be their Thain — their war-leader and, presumably, chief spokesperson to groups outside the Shire.

Imagine Bucca assessing matters after his first year in office. “Friends, Hobbits, fellow Shire-folk. Lend me your ears! Today we celebrate a year of plentitude with platitudes and plenty. We’re alive. We have food to eat. And our families are safe. So, what the heck? Let’s eat!”

Gorhendad Oldbuck, maybe in his first and only State of the Shire speech, might have said something about the way the Shire had become too crowded. “My fellow Shirefolk. I speak before you today a Hobbit in dire need of freedom: freedom to breathe, freedom to live, freedom to thrive. The old Shire has become too bloated with wealthy, insufferable, Fallohidish hobbitry who have no sense of what it means to settle down and live comfortably. Perhaps I shall abdicate this office of my fathers and seek a more peaceful respite across the Brandywine river, for the hills there are gentle and the trees sway quietly in the breeze….”

Isumbras I, first Thain of the Took Line, of course would not have hesitated to set the record straight in his own report to the Shire-moot. “Fellow Hobbits of the Shire. I, Isumbras I, humbly suggest to you that our Shire today is better off than it has been in many a century. Not since the days of the King have we known such peace and providence as befalls our good nation this day. We have purged ourselves of the extreme and bitter remorse for an imagined pristine time in our past. We stand today strong, proud, and fast before the coming winter…prepared to reap the harvest of hard work and gentle burdens. I give you a toast, to the Shire (the crowd roars back, ‘The Shire!’), and say, ‘Let us eat!'”

Isumbras III, in his last address (Shire Reckoning 1158, Stewards’ Reckoning 2758): “My fellow Hobbitry. Though the night be cold, the hearth be warm and there is food aplenty. Eat up and rejoice in the sure knowledge that our homes are safe and secure against the creatures of the wild. Come the spring, we’ll bask in the warm sunshine and be sure of planting a great crop for a bumper harvest.”

Ferumbras II, in his first address (Shire Reckoning 1159, Stewards’ Reckoning 2759): “I stand before you a hardened but not bitter hobbit. I am sure my Dad, had he lived through the Long Winter, would be as proud of the Hobbit nation as I am today. We are survivors. We are winners. We are — okay, okay, let’s eat!”

Paladin II (Pippin’s father) spoke sharply in Shire Reckoning 1418 (Steward’s Reckoning 3018): “Beloved Hobbits of the Shire. I tell you today there are some as whose ambitions may lead them blindly down the wrong path. But we are Shire-folk, proud and well-fed. Believe me well when I say that no Took shall tolerate any nonsense from Outsiders. Are you with me, or are you just going to eat?”

Paladin II in his address of Shire Reckoning 1419 (Steward’s Reckoning 3019): “Told you so. Okay, okay, let’s eat!”