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MISS DORA BAGGINS’ BOOK OF MANNERS:
OR THE SHIRE HOBBIT'S GUIDE TO PROPER BEHAVIOUR FOR EVERY OCCASION
It is the duty of every Hobbit to endeavour to present a good example of Proper Behaviour. A Hobbit of the Shire should always keep in mind the Principles of Respectability, which are to be Kind, Hospitable and Predictable. Propriety demands no less.
In the hopes of offering Guidance to the Young, and to offer solutions to various Social Problems that may arise, I have decided to make my own small Contribution to Society by penning this volume of Advice.
The first and foremost Principles of Respectability is Kindness. Without Kindness, all other efforts to show good breeding and status are useless. With Kindness, even a Hobbit whose family is from the bottom of the Roll, may hold his or her head up with pride. And even a family whose otherwise stellar position has been tainted by Adventure, may recover its Respectability, if Kindness is the Guide. Do not be misled into thinking that Kindness is the same as Generosity. While they often go hand in hand, with Generosity springing from a well of kind feeling towards one’s fellow Hobbits, in some cases there are those who are anything but Kind, and who use Generosity in an effort to mask their true nature. It well behooves the average Hobbit to learn the difference. This can truly be told in times of Trouble, when True Kindness will come to the fore, while the False will retreat, or even take Advantage!
The second Principle of Respectability is Hospitality. A Hobbit’s first duty is to the well-being of his or her Guests. A good host or hostess knows this. One must make a Guest feel Welcome, with a hearty greeting and an offer of refreshment. In those cases when a Guest is Unexpected, then one must do one’s best to provide, even though one may have to do without oneself. On rare occasions a Guest may be Unwelcome, either through having come at an inconvenient time, or merely through being unpleasant or uncongenial company. This makes no difference. Duty is Duty. Only if a Guest is rude upon the doorstep may one feel justified in denying him or her entrance to the Home, and to do so even then can leave one open to accusations of Rudeness oneself.
The third Principle of Respectability is Predictability. A Hobbit should always try his or her best to remain Predictable. To do the Unexpected smacks of Adventure, something all Hobbits should avoid when in any way possible. While it is quite true that the families of some of the Great Houses have been known to be touched by Adventure, this does not in any way make such an undertaking Respectable! Any Hobbit who does such a thing risks irreparable damage to his or her Reputation. A Reputation is an important thing, never to be risked lightly or impulsively. Hobbits who have indulged themselves in Adventure have spent the rest of their lives attempting to recover their lost Reputation, and are never wholly successful, as Talk will follow them to the end of their days and beyond.
In Shire Society there are many Occasions upon which one or more of these Principles may be called upon. To learn just what the appropriate Kind, Hospitable or Predictable response is in each situation can be confusing and trying. It is my hope that my Advice will be of some assistance in choosing the Correct and Proper course of Action in each such situation.
I shall endeavour to give my best Advice concerning the following matters:
UPON THE REARING OF CHILDREN
MEALTIMES AND MANNERS
BEING A GUEST
THE GIVING OF GIFTS
THE WRITING OF LETTERS
WHEN MISTAKES ARE MADE
IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
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