PEACOCK >> Love of religious ceremonial with no care for the spiritual Truth
There must be a quite noble charity in the love for presenting spiritual truth, or its beautiful representatives, simply for the use of it, and without personal complacency. The natural love of beautiful display is altogether another thing. It is vain and capricious; and, if not sufficiently flattered, it becomes sulky and resentful. It is also jealous of rivals, and may be cruel. It does not produce its charms as a duty, and with a single view to doing good; but capriciously, and, in part, to win admiration.
This love is embodied in the peacock, a polygamous, jealous creature, who sometimes will graciously display his really beautiful plumes, sometimes will fold them and take them away, deaf to persuasion; and, again, will persistently and earnestly press upon the attention of common fowls his worn-out drapery, too shabby for polite society. Mr. Wood remarks:
In character, the peacock is as variable as other creatures, some individuals being mild and goodtempered, while others are morose and jealous to the extreme. One of these birds, living in the north of Ireland, was a curious mixture of cruelty and fun. He had four wives, but he killed them all successively by pecking them to death, for what cause no one could find out. Even his own children shared the same fate, until his owner put the pea fowl eggs under a sitting hen, and forced her to hatch the eggs and tend the young far out of his sight. (Natural History)
Similar complaints of their cruelty are not uncommon. Peacocks were among Solomon’s importations with the gold and silver, ivory and apes. And as his apes corresponded to the externals of doctrine and devotion which seemed human, yet had no human soul, because no spiritual thought in them, so the peacocks represented the love of religious ceremonial, with no care for the spiritual truth and charity which it ought to express.
Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875