The Vain Jackdaw, an illustration by JVL, in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989
Here is a version of the fable written by Christopher Smart in 1760,
a verse translation of Phaedrus's fable
The Vain Jackdaw
Lest any one himself should plume,
And on his neighbour’s worth presume;
But still let Nature’s garb prevail -
Esop has left this little tale:
A Daw, ambitious and absurd,
Pick’d up the quills of Juno’s bird;
And, with the gorgeous spoil adorn’d,
All his own sable brethren scorn’d,
And join’d the peacocks - who in scoff
Stripp’d the bold thief, and drove him off.
The Daw, thus roughly handled, went
To his own kind in discontent:
but they in turn contemn the spark,
And brand with many a shameful mark.
Then one he formerly disdain’d,
“Had you,” said he, “at home remain’d -
Content with Nature’s ways and will,
You had not felt the peacock’s bill;
Nor ’mongst the birds of your own dress
Had been deserted in distress.”
Moral: Fine feathers do not make a fine bird.
Text: Christopher Smart (Phaedrus 1/3, 1760).
Selected Parallels: Babrius 72. Phaedrus 1/3. Avianus 15. Caxton, Romulus 2/15. La Fontaine 4/9. L’Estrange 1/33. Perry 472 and cf 129. cf TMI J951.2.