The Infant Moralist

Reader Kimika Ying has unearthed a treasure from the past.


Dear Mr. Key, she writes, I’ve found a book which put me in mind of Hooting Yard which I would like to pass along, “The Infant Moralist” by Lady Helena Carnegie and Mrs. Arthur Jacob, published in 1903. Public domain versions of the book, with a delightfully illustrated copy of the original, are located here

It contains some of the usual moral lessons on “The Consequences of Greed”, “Profanity”, “Envy”, “Courage”, etc. What caught my attention were the less commonly heard ones: “Insensate Mischief”, “Inevitable Retribution”, “Unsuitable Jesting”, and “Ill-Timed Levity”.

And this:


I needs must beg you, Caroline,

To cease your Chatter whilst I dine.

It deafens every Ear.

John Footman cannot hear my Words,

And I have asked him twice for Curds

And still he cannot hear.

If Caroline were with us today she would undoubtedly have a cell phone out at the dinner table as well. Anyway, all fine moral lessons and a good addition to any library. It also occurs to me that this book might be a superior replacement for the usual deadly dull workplace employee handbook.

One thought on “The Infant Moralist

  1. I’m having it incorporated into our Standard Operatiing Practice as I write.

    However what is needed is a contempoary version. Despite all this being as true now as ever it was, some of the examples might be a trifle dated. How many Admirals do most children meet in this day and age, let alone have opportunities to tie his shoe laces together in a such wicked manner?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.