“Yet in truth, Saruman’s spying and great secrecy had not in the beginning any evil purpose, but was no more than a folly born of pride. Small matters, unworthy it would seem to be reported, may yet prove of great moment ere the end. Now truth to tell, observing Gandalf’s love of the herb that he called ‘pipe-weed’ (for which, he said, if for nothing else, the Little People should be honoured), Saruman had affected to scoff at it, but in private he made trial of it, and soon began to use it; and for this reason the Shire remained important to him. Yet he dreaded lest this should be discovered, and his own mockery turned against him, so that he would be laughed at for imitating Gandalf, and scorned for doing so by stealth. This then was the reason for his great secrecy in all his dealings with the Shire….
But Gandalf knew of these visits, and guessed their object, and he laughed, thinking this the most harmless of Saruman’s secrets; but he said nothing to others, for it was never his wish that any one should be put to shame.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales, “The Hunt for the Ring”