Daniel Pierce Thompson
(1795 – 1868)
Sunday Oct 10th It is quite unpleasant to day and
as mother & Mrs Mower was not going to meeting
I staid with them Mrs Ames Oakes A & Frank
went this forenoon, and Mr Ames returned alone
this afternoon I have been reading some in
the Rangers Torys Daughter and writing
Helen came in and played on the piano
this evening Mrs Witherell & Ames came in a while
Evelina skipped church to stay home with her mother and houseguest, not minding too much because of poor weather, which Old Oliver described as “cloud[y] damp + verry warm wind.”
The women did not sew, but they probably chatted a bit and read a lot. Evelina was reading The Rangers: Or, The Tory’s Daughter: A Tale Illustrative of the Revolutionary History of Vermont and the Northern Campaign of 1777, by Daniel Pierce Thompson. Mr. Thompson was a famous writer in the period before the Civil War, especially in New England. His novels were as well-known as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, but his turgid prose, popular in its day, has caused him to fall far out of fashion. He was also a political figure in Vermont and an active abolitionist, but his novels are not much remembered.
The first two sentences of the book that Evelina was reading illustrate his dated style:
Towards night, on the twelfth of March, 1775, a richly equipped double sleigh, filled with a goodly company of well dressed persons of the different sexes, was seen descending from the eastern side of the Green Mountains, along what may now be considered the principal thoroughfare leading from the upper navigable portions of the Hudson to those of the Connecticut River. The progress of the travellers was not only slow, but extremely toilsome, as was plainly evinced by the appearance of the reeking and jaded horses, as they laboured and floundered along the sloppy and slumping snow paths of the winter road, which was obviously now fast resolving itself into the element of which it was composed.
In the evening Evelina put down the book – which must have been slow going – and whatever letters she was writing, and the whole family listened as Helen Angier Ames played the new piano.