It is not exactly the fault of Big Folk that what they know of hobbits could comfortably fill the shortest of chapters. Men, especially those of Bree, might produce a page or page-in-a-half which would compliment Hobbit hospitality, farming, and the size of their pantries (while remarking on the frequency of their meals). Elves could possibly do a better job, being scholars of all Middle Earth, and give an account regarding Hobbits’ lost origins and the Wandering Days. Dwarves of course would not give Hobbits a singular paragraph, but the briefest of footnotes recognizing them as the one Free People of Arda that made Dwarrows seem tall in comparison.
While limited in length, much of what other races and the casual observer know of Hobbits is true. Hobbits do love good-tilled earth and are quite merry. Bright colors, good manners, and a firm understanding of respectability hold high reign in their society. For really, what could be better than good food, good cheer, and good company? However, while slightly bigoted to the Small Folk, the other races are not exactly at fault for thinking little of Hobbits. After all, Hobbits do not desire to disabuse them of their notions in the least.
And when some well-meaning Outsider would mention how it is a shame that Hobbits knew little of their past from before their Shire days …well, Hobbits are polite and wait to smirk at such an individual until after his back is turned. For, while Hobbits are inclined to be fat and do not hurry unnecessarily, they are nonetheless nimble and deft in their movements.* With sharp eyes and quick hearing, Hobbits are not at all unaware of what pitying strangers think. Especially when one considers how these little folk have mastered the art of disappearing swiftly and silently, so well that to Men it may seem magical.* Utter nonsense of course, for everyone knows that the elusiveness of hobbits is due solely to a professional skill, resulting from heredity and practice, and a close friendship with the earth.* Ahem, but to return to the topic at hand. While pity might be generously given by Outsiders, Hobbits really feel no need for it. For while the rest of Arda may have misplaced their knowledge on where Hobbits originated, Hobbits never have.
Hobbit history, you see, is a very secret thing and Hobbits are very discreet; much better than Elves or Dwarves when it comes to keeping secrets. Hobbit propriety and general sense dictates that one should be wary with how much any Outsider should know. For Hobbits were fashioned for a specific purpose, one they were almost destroyed for, and so to them discretion is the better form of valor. So all that Hobbits know of their history remains safe and secure solely in Hobbit knowledge, spread from parent to child and only ever written in their secret language Green Tongue.
Though secret, Hobbit origins are not the hardest of histories to remember. Hobbits are practical people after all and were thus made for a very practical purpose. Yet Hobbits are particularly fond of a good story. So when elderly hobbits relay Hobbit creation to fauntlings it is told somewhat similarly to the following tale.
After the wakening of Elves, Men, and Dwarves, the Valar watched over these beings and saw how their differences caused war and strife between the three races. Elves, as the Firstborn, patronized the others; gifting epitaphs of Engwar (‘the Sickly’) to Men and Naugrim (‘the Stunted People’) to the Dwarves. As the first children, Elves considered themselves superior to their mortal counterparts.
Meanwhile, Men found themselves distrustful of their long-lived companions. To Men the Elves were too distant with their love of starlight and the Dwarves were callous, devoted only to earthen treasures. What did these other races care for the fleetingness of a man’s lifetime? What depth of feeling could they have, when their lives lingered on and on through the years?
Lastly, the Dwarves, as the adopted children of Eru, could not reconcile with the other races. Why should they be looked down on for not being planned by Eru? Why should they who could shape the dullest stone into beauty be considered lesser than Eru’s true children?
And so as the Races' anger grew so did warfare and the Valar who observed them felt torn by pity. A solution was needed and so the Valar took it upon themselves to plead with Eru Ilúvatar. Eru listened to their grief and in turn agreed to grant a merciful boon to the Valar if they could but decide on a course of action. Long did they ponder but it seemed hopeless. How could one cause beings of free will to choose peace when each race held so keenly to their grievances.
It was Yavanna, who had previously pleaded for the creation of the Ents, along with her fellow Queens of the Valar Estë and Nienna who proposed a solution. A mediator race was needed to keep the peace, one that would not think it superior to the other races nor shy from their self-righteous anger. With the help of the other Valar they fashioned a new race of beings crafted with attributes of the other races. Their height and size resembled the Dwarves, yet their keen sight and hearing was akin to the Elves, and their appearance and life-spans closest to those of Men.
Whilst finishing their physical forms each Valar placed their mark upon these creatures. Manwë whispered wisdom in their ears, while Ulmo molded them spirits to be as untamable as his waters, and Tulkas shared his strength of heart. Of the Fëanturi, Irmo blessed them with a desire for all good things of the spirit over earthly treasures and Mandos kissed their brows so they would feel no fear at their last breath. Within their breast Varda kindled a tiny star to always light their path. Impulsively, Nessa shaped them sturdy feet so they might always be sure of their step and dance their merriment. Together Aulë and Estë crafted them hands that were meant to create, to tend, and heal. Upon their skins Vairë drew spells over hands, breast, and lips so they would never lose their stories. From Nienna they received hearts that felt as keenly as her own, so they would share in her mercy and endurance of the spirit. Lastly Yavanna, Vána, and Oromë came forth and sowed within their creations a love for all things that grew: bird, beast, and plant. So powerful was that love that these creatures would be guardians to all living things and come to speak with the earth. The earth would guard and love them dearly in return.
Finished with their task, the Valar presented their joint creation to Eru who accepted these creatures as their answer. Over each of the Valar-fashioned he shared his breath, struck alight the Flame inside their breast, and sung the melody these new creatures would occupy in the Music. So it came to be that when those creatures that would later be known as Hobbits first opened their eyes they were filled with tears from hearing Eru's song and feeling the earth’s love.
To keep those others that bore his Flame from seeing how different these new creatures were, Eru cloaked their spirits so they would seem unassuming. Not even the eyes of the Maiar or Eldar could pierce through the Creator's shroud unless allowed by one of the seemingly innocuous beings. Before they left, each Valar gave farewell to their creations and cautioned them to keep their purpose secret, least beings of darkness thought to do them harm. Then Manwë had the Eagles fly them to Arda where they came to settle north of the Vales of Anduin. There the Hobbits flourished, establishing their societies and sharing speech with the earth. They came into their own language Green Tongue and separated into three groups: Stoors, Fallohides, and Harfoots. The Stoors were those who loved the water that was akin to the spirits Ulmo gave them. They were of broad build and donned the beards and boots of men. The Fallohides felt dearest Oromë’s blessing most for they were lovers of trees and woodlands and those beast that resided within. They were taller and slimmer than their fellow hobbits, fairer of skin and hair.* Harfoots were smallest and shortest, skilled with their hands, and felt the call of earth the best. It was they that befriended the Entwives who taught them the secrets of root and soil. So the seasons passed and the Hobbits came into their own.
Yet, no matter if they were Harfoots, Fallohides, or Stoors, all knew when unrest grew and the earth cried out at the rising violence of Man, Dwarf, and Elf. At that time a hobbit or two would answer the call and go forth to act as councilor. Yet ever wary of the Valar’s warnings, those hobbits who ventured out would wear boots and go forth appearing as younglings of the other races. Wisdom from the mouths of babes some would recollect when hostility was averted and those children who had gently persuaded, manipulated, and cautioned had disappeared. Therefore, when the other races at last acknowledged the Hobbits existence, they did not associate them with those wise youngsters, but saw them only as distant relations to Men. Thus had Hobbits settled and begun to set about their purpose when darkness arose from the East.
In the Undying Lands, the Valar became restless at the rise of Sauron and though they had sent the Hobbits to ease tensions between the races, they knew their creations would be no match for Morgoth’s follower. Having kept the Hobbits creation secret from the Maiar, the Valar dispatched the Istari to aid the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. As Sauron’s Shadow spread the Hobbits struggled to keep their purpose. Not all animosity could they forestall, not all battles between the Free Folk could they prevent. Each failure during the time of Sauron cut close to the Hobbits' grieving hearts, wearying their spirits.
Although the other races did not know of the Hobbits' influence, Sauron’s lead servant, the Witch-King of Angmar, became suspicious of the creatures. In time he captured one who had gone to answer the call. Though she died before revealing anything, the head of the Nazgul sent forth a small host to destroy the creatures least they be some inconvenience to his master. As beings of peace, the Hobbits were completely unprepared for the attack and many of their numbers died before the grieving of the Earth brought forth relief. The Shape-shifters of the North, Mearas, Lintips, and the Great Eagles came as aid having heard the earth’s sorrow and savaged the Witch-King's host. The Hobbits, having suffered great losses, spent much of the end of the Second Age abandoning their old lands and building their new homes in the Vale of Anduin. Meanwhile, the war with Men and Elves so distracted Sauron’s servant he had no thoughts to spare for the odd creatures he had attempted to destroy.
From the Undying Lands, the Valar watched and grieved having realized how unprotected they had left the youngest of races. Yavanna pleaded to the other Valar to help safe-keep their creations and so together the Valar weaved a spell onto their decimated children. Upon each Hobbit family a bit of magic was blessed, a flickering thing left to form as it would with only one concern: that it should provide some skill to assist in keeping its owner safe. So each family developed a certain knack, starting with the Oldbucks, a Fallohide family, who could sense growing danger. Inherited traits, these knacks grew to different levels of skill and strength between family members. However, despite these blessings, most Hobbits took it upon themselves to learn the skills of bow, blade, and stave. For Hobbit memories are long and they desired to never see their homelands razed again.
Following the Valar’s blessing Hobbits remained in the Vale of Anduin until the third age, when the Oldbucks’ knack warned of darkness arising in the Greenwood. Thus the Wandering Days came to pass until the King of Arnor granted them the settlement of the Shire. All that was demanded of them was that they should keep the Great Bridge in repair and all other bridges and roads, speed the king’s messengers, and acknowledge his lordship.* The Hobbits honored this oath along with their sacred purpose even after the fall of Arnor.
It was around this time that one of the Istari, he who had taken on the name of Gandalf came to learn something of Hobbit nature. While their purpose was kept safe, Hobbit knacks were of a less secretive thing and Gandalf, having learned of them, thought he had found the beings that would be perfect in assisting his safekeeping of Middle Earth. Since the Hobbits found that his purposes often coincided with their own the Thain, the chosen leader after Arnor’s fall, agreed to allow those who wished to to accompany the wizard. So it came to pass that Hobbits came to remain complacently within the Shire. And, if ever one of their numbers heard the call to take up their created purpose, it could be certain that a rather meddlesome wizard would be visiting with a casual invite for an adventure.
So season followed season and perhaps all would have remained the same in the Shire with one of their numbers disappearing on an adventure every few years and occasionally returning. Perhaps Hobbits or at least a hobbit would never have had a greater part to play in the salvation of Middle Earth if Gandalf the Grey had never taken Gerontius Took on an adventure meaning to have him help defeat a dragon and ended up with him marrying one instead.