have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought
to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar
he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him
than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.
You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.”
Gandalf speaks these words in Chapter 1 shortly
after Bilbo faints from terror at the prospect of going on the quest
with the dwarves. After Bilbo’s display of fear, the dwarves are
skeptical that Bilbo will make a good addition to the party, and
Gandalf gives this speech to ease their doubts. The speech is important
both because it exemplifies Gandalf’s habit of insisting that his
own authority be taken as definitive proof and also because it foreshadows
Bilbo’s transformation into a hero. The trajectory of the novel
from this point forward essentially involves Bilbo’s discovery of
the “lot more in him” that even he does not yet know.