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-   -   Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be damn bad for the squire but it’ (http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=19475)

R.R.J Tolkien 01-14-2021 04:44 PM

Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be damn bad for the squire but it’
 
Does anyone know what he meant by this?

Kuruharan 01-14-2021 10:23 PM

It means that demonstrating respect and offering your service to somebody other than yourself is good for your soul because it gets you thinking about serving something outside your selfish desires.

But offering that respect and service to a human being is likely to make that human being an even worse and more selfish person than they were already.

Huinesoron 01-15-2021 03:05 AM

"Squire" in this sense is used to mean "lord of the manor" (rather than "knight's armour-bearer"). The image is of offering respect to someone who only 'deserves' it through accident of birth, rather than by having earned it through their deeds. As Kuruharan says, whether or not the 'squire' is already obnoxious, getting unearned respect is going to push them that way.

Showing that respect - almost especially to someone who doesn't deserve it - is an act of humility. Given that Tolkien's greatest heroes - Bilbo, and especially Frodo and Sam - are kind of innately humble, I think we can take this as an attribute he was in favour of.

hS

Kuruharan 01-15-2021 11:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huinesoron (Post 729747)
than by having earned it through their deeds

I'd argue that even people who have earned it through their deeds are just as prone to arrogance as anybody else.

They may just have a different set of pitfalls.

R.R.J Tolkien 01-15-2021 07:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuruharan (Post 729745)
It means that demonstrating respect and offering your service to somebody other than yourself is good for your soul because it gets you thinking about serving something outside your selfish desires.

But offering that respect and service to a human being is likely to make that human being an even worse and more selfish person than they were already.

Interesting thanks.

Morthoron 01-16-2021 05:21 PM

Quote:

"Contrary to what most people feel, touching your cap to the squire may be damn bad for the squire but it's damn good for you."
Tolkien was fairly Victorian in worldview. The old forms were his comfort zone. He rarely went to see films, didn't drive a car, and was a devout Pre-Vatican II Catholic.

Thus "touching your cap" (ie., saluting or doffing a cap), which originated as "touching/tugging one's forelock", a sign of reverent deference from a vassal to a seigneur, was good in Tolkien's estimation as a sign of his own humility. It was bad for the squire because in essence it fed his ego, and was anything but humble, particularly if the squire expected such deference from his cottagers.

R.R.J Tolkien 01-17-2021 09:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morthoron (Post 729773)
Tolkien was fairly Victorian in worldview. The old forms were his comfort zone. He rarely went to see films, didn't drive a car, and was a devout Pre-Vatican II Catholic.

Thus "touching your cap" (ie., saluting or doffing a cap), which originated as "touching/tugging one's forelock", a sign of reverent deference from a vassal to a seigneur, was good in Tolkien's estimation as a sign of his own humility. It was bad for the squire because in essence it fed his ego, and was anything but humble, particularly if the squire expected such deference from his cottagers.

Thanks much.

paulag 02-16-2021 11:10 AM

I take touching your cap to the squire as to mean simply showing respect to someone above you

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