AS 'VAIN AS A PEACOCK.
[To TIM EDITOR OF TUE "SPECTEATOR.1
venture to send you some curious particulars about the behaviour of a young peacock that is kept here. I should be glad to learn whether our experience can be confirmed or illustrated by any of your readers. The bird began by sedulously frequenting the stable-yard, and whenever the carriage was brought out of the coachhouse he would take his stand by it, and gaze at his reflection in the panels. He then took to accompanying the carriage up to the house, and, standing beside it at the front door, engaged in self-contem- plation. He now runs behind the carriage, when it starts from the house, down to a certain point of the drive, apparently in the hope that it may stop, and allow him to continue his favourite occupation ; but he seems to conclude at a certain place that the case is hopeless, though if the carriage halts further down the drive he will rejoin it and resume his observations. It occurred to us to wonder what he would do if a looking-glass were placed on the lawn. This was accordingly done, and he at once found it out. Nothing will induce him to quit it. He will stand by it for hours together. At first he occasionally looked inquisitively behind the glass at intervals to see if a bird was actually present, but he has given this up now. He stands in front of it, entirely absorbed, often motionless for a long time, occasionally moving his head gently up and down, and sometimes softly touching the glass with his bill, appearing slightly bewildered by the contact. If food is thrown to him he takes no notice, unless it is close to the glass, when he will hurriedly gobble- it up and return to his more congenial employment in haste, as though vexed at being interrupted. If the glass is taken into the drawing-room, which is on the ground floor looking into the garden, he will enter the room by door or window, find the glass, and continue his favourite pursuit; and be spends the greater part of the day at the door that leads from the drawing-room into the garden in the hope that some one may bring out his glass for him. Meanwhile the peahen is sitting on a nest of eggs in a hedge close at hand. He never goes near her, his only idea being to find opportunities for contemplating his own perfections. I suppose that the proverb "As vain as a peacock" refers to the bird's habit of spreading his tail and strutting about ; but it is curious to find that this instinctive vanity lies deeper still, and is not confined to the desire to arouse the admiration of his mate, as is generally taken for granted, but is based upon a genuine complacency and an almost morbid consciousness of his personal attractions.—I am, Sir, &c.,
ARTHUR G BENSON.
Tremans, Horsted Keynes, Sussex.