Excerpt from Pictures of Rhode Island: In the Past, 1642 1833
Nothing is more characteristic of American life, in the present or in the past, than the rapidity with which the face of the country is transformed by the hand of man. Wheatfields and orchards stand now where ten years ago were only the prairie or the forest. The mission of American mankind (a mission more inspiring and more ideal than we are apt to suspect) has been "to go up against the land and possess it," and transform it. And yet, especially here in New England, how much remains from decade to decade unchanged! That strain of conservatism in the American blood, which jostles so oddly with its audacious energy and enterprise, has preserved for us, in these older communities, many of our material landmarks and still more of our traits of character. Very likely it is this mingling of change and of permanence which appeals to us with so constant a charm in old descriptions of New England or any of its regions. When we come across them in our reading, we are quickly interested to see how much, in the scenes which are familiar to us, is the product of change, how much has come down to us unaltered from earlier days. Most of us readers of books who dwell in Rhode Island have had the pleasure of encountering a few such descriptions of its former appearance and character.
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