There are many reasons why you may have chosen The Lord of the Rings as a recipient of your Hall of Fame award. As the archivist of the Tolkien Society, there is one particular passage which I hope added in its own small way to the value of the whole, and which I would like to read to you to provide a framework for my thanks.
“At no time had Hobbits of any kind been warlike, and they had never fought among themselves. In olden days they had, of course, been often obliged to fight to maintain themselves in a hard world; but in Bilbo’s time that was very ancient history. The last battle, before this story opens, and indeed the only one that had ever been fought within the borders of the Shire, was beyond living memory: the Battle of Greenfields, S.R. 1147, in which Bandobras Took routed an invasion of Orcs. Even the weathers had grown milder, and the wolves that had once come ravening out of the North in bitter white winters were now only a grandfather’s tale. So, though there was still some store of weapons in the Shire, these were used mostly as trophies, hanging above hearths or on walls, or gathered into the museum at Michel Delving. The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.” (pages 15/16).
Mathom houses are one of the Shire’s “memory institutions,” places which we might recognize here in Montreal as libraries, museums, archives, historic places, websites and so on. The importance of the memory institution in preserving freedom is one small thread that runs through The Lord of the Rings, but one that I personally am rather fond of. The Tolkien Society’s archive, and the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Hall of Fame in their own ways are partly fulfilling the same function as the Mathom-house at Michel Delving. So, thank you for this mathom.
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