E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Corneille dEsope (La).
Motley work. Cest la corneille dEsope.
The allusion is to the fable of the Jackdaw which decked itself with the plumage of the peacocks. The jackdaw not only lost its borrowed plumes, but got picked well-nigh to death by the angry peacocks.