A JAY venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there a number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the Peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. So the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had watched his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed with him, and told him:
“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”
Phædrus, i. 3. Referred to by Horace, Epist. I. iii. 18, and Plautus, Aulul. II. i. Probably Indian, owing to the habitat of the bird and the similarity of the Nacca Jātaka. The parvenu bird varies. Benedict of Oxford, in his Hebrew version, makes it Raven. Most of the English Æsops call it a Jackdaw. Thackeray includes it in the Prologue to The Newcomes. A monograph has been written on this fable by M. Fuchs, 1886 (Dissertation). Our expression, " Borrowed plumes," comes from it.
Jay and the Peacock, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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ATU 244: The Raven in Borrowed Feathers