Only A Weather Vane
It was some years ago, although I do not
remember how many,
Yet I was not up to my teens, was what
you might call a small shaver;
I came into Portland, it was summer, with a
team with my father;
The day was a warm one, the jaded horses plod-
ded slowly along,
Making our jaunt a dull and tiresome one on the
road through the country.
I, like any small boy weary with sight-seeing,
soon became sleepy;
But my father, to interest me, and rouse the
mind of my boyship,
Continued to call my attention to dif’rent objects
And among all the rest, I can see now as it were
in a vision,
Standing upon a cross street, an old wooden
building with a belfrey,
A short distance up to the right, near by where
we entered the city.
The small spire stood midway, and appeared to
be astride of the ridgepole,
And on the top of the whole, said my father “ob-
serve that old rooster
Head to the wind, where for years turning this
way and that, he has faced it.
Although his position is a high one, ’tis humble,
for the building
Is used by a chandler in which to make up his
soaps and candles.”
But continued my father, “he has seen better
days, the old fellow.”
Has seen better days! this reminds us that even
we have been younger,
And had not then lost our uprightness, much of
our gilding and burnish;
So like all else that is earthy, a weather-vane too
may be aged.
“That was an old vane when I was a boy I
remember,” said father,
“It was made in the last century, seventeen
hundred and something.”
Here we consult William Willis, to verify part
of the story;
An Englishman made him, carved him from a
block of substantial oak wood
In the year seventeen hundred and eighty-six, so
say the records,
To adorn the new court house which then Cum-
Berland County was building;
For prior to this (except one that was burned
before it was finished,
Burned by that contemptible Mowatt in his
destruction of Portland,)
No house, built for the purpose, in this part of
the Province existed.
These meetings of justice ere this had been
held in churches and taverns,
And wherever circumstances called, sometimes
at the house of a neighbor.
The court house of wood was completed; at least
was completed outside.
But alas, the interior saw few decorations at that
Unless it be stocks stowed away, whipping-post,
pillory, and gallows,
Kept there for use as occasion required twenty
years or more after.
Compared with such buildings to-day, this court
house was plain, and was simple;
Yet in that room much skill was displayed of the
great men and the noble,
Who labored to defend their good fellows from
the cheats and the lawless.
Twas there with unsurpassed dignity Chief
Justice Dana presided.
It was there, too, that Parsons, his successor,
pronounced learned opinions,
Which established the unsettled principles of
And it was there that Parsons’ successor, the
modest and wise Sewall,
Calmly heard able arguments and uttered his
In this plain old room the eloquence of James
He was followed by Isaac Parker, and as advo-
castes and judges
They gave new lustre to the history of the legal
In that unadorned room, Sedgewick, Paine,
Bradbury, Thacher, Strong, and
All able judges, have sat and heard the argu-
ments of the graceful
Solicitor Davis, of Symmes, and Chase, of
Mellen and of Whitman.
Of Orr, Hopkins, Longfellow and Emery,
and last not least followed
In that brilliant train, a Greenleaf, the elder
Fessenden and Daveis,
Wielding their swords of youthful talent, flash-
ing with wit, and with logic.
These names, I have mentioned, still glow on our
best historical pages;
But their voices are still, and the toilers have
joined the great procession,
And passed beyond our ken, perhaps, to a great
and higher tribunal,
Now the eighteenth century has gone, passed to
the ocean of ages,
And the nineteenth has followed to the year
‘sixteen, when the old court house
Must be removed to make place for a building
more showy and better.
A society of worshippers bought and removed
the old landmark
To Court, now Exchange street, and on its site
was erected a brick one,
And this in its turn, in the year ‘fifty-eight, gave
way to another;
Pushed out by the march of modern improve-
ments, wanted a handsomer.
Now a beautiful structure adorns the spot where
once stood the old ones.
But what has become of the rooster? He was
removed with the court house,
Which with its belfrey and weather-vane serves
a turn now for the clergy;
And here twelve years they stood, for the forum
an appropriate sequel;
While good father Rand continued to sing and
to talk to his people,
Or till that prosperous sect demanded more
Then the old court – or rather meeting house
became once more deserted,
And regardless of all associations secular or
it is sold in the year ‘twenty-seven to one Robert
Hull, a chandler,
Who, that it serve his trade the better, removed
it this time to Green street;
And here it was standing when father asked me
to notice the rooster.
And here till the year ‘sixty-nine it remained,
and then was demolished.
Now to descend, our hero, like Zaccheus of old,
Having presided for twenty-nine years over law-
yers and judges;
Twelve years beneath him rose the earnest
prayers and songs of the devoted,
And forty-two years proudly he moved above
the head of the chandler.
The weather-vane now disappears, is taking
perhaps a vacation;
Gone, no one appears to know where, and sup-
posed he had gone forever.
Till, a few years later in Portland the hens
Appeared in convention;
When behold, at the head of the hall stood old
chanticleer in earnest,
Introduced by William G. Twombly to preside
there at the hen show.
“Uncle Twombly” had borrowed our hero of
John T. Hull, his owner,
Into whose hands he had fallen at the death of
his uncle, the chandler.
All who had previously known chanticleer
hailed him now with wonder,
And declared at the close of the hen show he
must be re-instated.
So, accordingly, when they adjourned, various
projects were mentioned.
Whereby they could place him again before the
Finally, half way down Exchange street an
elegant block was building;
When William E. Gould was consulted, what to do
you think the result was?
He carefully examined the rooster, had him fixed
up and gilded,
And in eighteen hundred and eighty-four, when
the new bank was finished,
A weather-vane seemed to be lacking; Oh Fate!
our hero was ready,
And on the First National Bank has taken the
Where in eighteen hundred and eighty-six he is
aged one hundred.
One hundred eventful years, a weather-vane
perched above Portland;
Could he but speak to the people, and recall
events long ago past,
What historical legends he’d tell us, of our
fathers and mothers,
And even generations before them, but our hero
He is so like many mortals, regardless of all but
I fancy he never will mention even a Peter’s
Portland, June 23, 1886