The Conceited Pig is one of the many books published in the 18th century that through moral tales involving fantasy elements (talking animals) allowed the characters to learn by their mistakes, taking the reader along with them. Virtues had a tendency to be “rammed home” giving critics like Hilaire Belloc (author of Cautionary Tales for Children, which included “Jim: Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion” and “Matilda: Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death”) ample ammunition.
Nevertheless, The Conceited Pig, anonymously written and illustrated by Harrison Weir, is a cute and fun read for young children who will not be bothered by the rather final ending.
Wilful is always fancying something is the matter, and is typically found poking his nose into things that don’t concern him. One evening in particular he is sure that the butchers are killing off the cows and carrying them away. In any event, he determines to find out what is going on.
On the way, he runs into Jack the old donkey. Old Jack is held in high esteem around the barnyard — by everyone but Wilful. Wilful, showing his complete ignorance, makes a rather stupid statement that causes Old Jack to laugh and laugh.
Wilful is rather indiscriminate when choosing his friends — something that the conceited pig will pay for in the end.
It is to be hoped that all such silly little people as fancy themselves wiser than their elders and betters, may learn to correct themselves of such a proud and evil spirit, or we may be sure that cleverer heads than old Jack’s may safely prophesy of them that they will come to no good.
The Conceited Pig is free in the public domain.
Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc
For those interested.
Miss Peck’s Adventures
Part two of The Conceited Pig.