Acres of Diamonds
Russell H. Conwell

Part 1 out of 3

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With an Autobiographical Note





THOUGH Russell H. Conwell's Acres of Diamonds
have been spread all over the United States,
time and care have made them more valuable,
and now that they have been reset in black and
white by their discoverer, they are to be laid in the
hands of a multitude for their enrichment.

In the same case with these gems there is a
fascinating story of the Master Jeweler's life-work
which splendidly illustrates the ultimate unit of
power by showing what one man can do in one
day and what one life is worth to the world.

As his neighbor and intimate friend in
Philadelphia for thirty years, I am free to say that
Russell H. Conwell's tall, manly figure stands
out in the state of Pennsylvania as its first citizen
and ``The Big Brother'' of its seven millions of

From the beginning of his career he has been a
credible witness in the Court of Public Works to
the truth of the strong language of the New
Testament Parable where it says, ``If ye have
faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto
this mountain, `Remove hence to yonder place,'

As a student, schoolmaster, lawyer, preacher,
organizer, thinker and writer, lecturer, educator,
diplomat, and leader of men, he has made his
mark on his city and state and the times in which
he has lived. A man dies, but his good work lives.

His ideas, ideals, and enthusiasms have inspired
tens of thousands of lives. A book full of the
energetics of a master workman is just what every
young man cares for.



_Friends_.--This lecture has been delivered under these
circumstances: I visit a town or city, and try to arrive there
enough to see the postmaster, the barber, the keeper of the
the principal of the schools, and the ministers of some of the
churches, and then go into some of the factories and stores, and
talk with the people, and get into sympathy with the local
conditions of that town or city and see what has been their
what opportunities they had, and what they had failed to do--
and every town fails to do something--and then go to the lecture
and talk to those people about the subjects which applied to
their locality. ``Acres of Diamonds''--the idea--has
been precisely the same. The idea is that in this country
of ours every man has the opportunity to make more of himself
than he does in his own environment, with his own skill, with
his own energy, and with his own friends.



This is the most recent and complete form of the lecture.
It happened to be delivered in Philadelphia, Dr. Conwell's
home city. When he says ``right here in Philadelphia,'' he means
the home city, town, or village of every reader of this book,
as he would use the name of it if delivering the lecture there,
instead of doing it through the pages which follow.

WHEN going down the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers many years ago with a party of
English travelers I found myself under the direction
of an old Arab guide whom we hired up at
Bagdad, and I have often thought how that guide
resembled our barbers in certain mental
characteristics. He thought that it was not only his
duty to guide us down those rivers, and do what he
was paid for doing, but also to entertain us with
stories curious and weird, ancient and modern,
strange and familiar. Many of them I have forgotten,
and I am glad I have, but there is one I
shall never forget.

The old guide was leading my camel by its
halter along the banks of those ancient rivers, and
he told me story after story until I grew weary
of his story-telling and ceased to listen. I have
never been irritated with that guide when he
lost his temper as I ceased listening. But I
remember that he took off his Turkish cap and
swung it in a circle to get my attention. I could
see it through the corner of my eye, but I determined
not to look straight at him for fear he would
tell another story. But although I am not a
woman, I did finally look, and as soon as I did he
went right into another story.

Said he, ``I will tell you a story now which I
reserve for my particular friends.'' When he
emphasized the words ``particular friends,'' I
listened, and I have ever been glad I did. I really
feel devoutly thankful, that there are 1,674 young
men who have been carried through college by
this lecture who are also glad that I did listen.
The old guide told me that there once lived not
far from the River Indus an ancient Persian by
the name of Ali Hafed. He said that Ali Hafed
owned a very large farm, that he had orchards,
grain-fields, and gardens; that he had money at
interest, and was a wealthy and contented man.
He was contented because he was wealthy, and
wealthy because he was contented. One day
there visited that old Persian farmer one of these
ancient Buddhist priests, one of the wise men of
the East. He sat down by the fire and told the
old farmer how this world of ours was made.
He said that this world was once a mere bank of
fog, and that the Almighty thrust His finger into
this bank of fog, and began slowly to move His
finger around, increasing the speed until at last
He whirled this bank of fog into a solid ball of
fire. Then it went rolling through the universe,
burning its way through other banks of fog, and
condensed the moisture without, until it fell in
floods of rain upon its hot surface, and cooled
the outward crust. Then the internal fires bursting
outward through the crust threw up the mountains
and hills, the valleys, the plains and prairies
of this wonderful world of ours. If this internal
molten mass came bursting out and cooled very
quickly it became granite; less quickly copper,
less quickly silver, less quickly gold, and, after
gold, diamonds were made.

Said the old priest, ``A diamond is a congealed
drop of sunlight.'' Now that is literally scientifically
true, that a diamond is an actual deposit
of carbon from the sun. The old priest told Ali
Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of
his thumb he could purchase the county, and if
he had a mine of diamonds he could place his
children upon thrones through the influence of
their great wealth.

Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much
they were worth, and went to his bed that night
a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he
was poor because he was discontented, and
discontented because he feared he was poor. He
said, ``I want a mine of diamonds,'' and he lay
awake all night.

Early in the morning he sought out the priest.
I know by experience that a priest is very cross
when awakened early in the morning, and when
he shook that old priest out of his dreams, Ali
Hafed said to him:

``Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?''

``Diamonds! What do you want with diamonds?''
``Why, I wish to be immensely rich.''
``Well, then, go along and find them. That is
all you have to do; go and find them, and then
you have them.'' ``But I don't know where to
go.'' ``Well, if you will find a river that runs
through white sands, between high mountains,
in those white sands you will always find
diamonds.'' ``I don't believe there is any such
river.'' ``Oh yes, there are plenty of them. All
you have to do is to go and find them, and then
you have them.'' Said Ali Hafed, ``I will go.''

So he sold his farm, collected his money, left
his family in charge of a neighbor, and away he
went in search of diamonds. He began his search,
very properly to my mind, at the Mountains of
the Moon. Afterward he came around into Palestine,
then wandered on into Europe, and at last
when his money was all spent and he was in
rags, wretchedness, and poverty, he stood on the
shore of that bay at Barcelona, in Spain, when
a great tidal wave came rolling in between the
pillars of Hercules, and the poor, afflicted,
suffering, dying man could not resist the awful
temptation to cast himself into that incoming tide, and
he sank beneath its foaming crest, never to rise
in this life again.

When that old guide had told me that awfully
sad story he stopped the camel I was riding on
and went back to fix the baggage that was coming
off another camel, and I had an opportunity to
muse over his story while he was gone. I remember
saying to myself, ``Why did he reserve that
story for his `particular friends'?'' There seemed
to be no beginning, no middle, no end, nothing
to it. That was the first story I had ever heard
told in my life, and would be the first one I ever
read, in which the hero was killed in the first
chapter. I had but one chapter of that story,
and the hero was dead.

When the guide came back and took up the
halter of my camel, he went right ahead with the
story, into the second chapter, just as though
there had been no break. The man who purchased
Ali Hafed's farm one day led his camel
into the garden to drink, and as that camel put
its nose into the shallow water of that garden
brook, Ali Hafed's successor noticed a curious
flash of light from the white sands of the stream.
He pulled out a black stone having an eye of light
reflecting all the hues of the rainbow. He took
the pebble into the house and put it on the mantel
which covers the central fires, and forgot all about

A few days later this same old priest came in
to visit Ali Hafed's successor, and the moment
he opened that drawing-room door he saw that
flash of light on the mantel, and he rushed up
to it, and shouted: ``Here is a diamond! Has Ali
Hafed returned?'' ``Oh no, Ali Hafed has not
returned, and that is not a diamond. That is
nothing but a stone we found right out here in our
own garden.'' ``But,'' said the priest, ``I tell you
I know a diamond when I see it. I know positively
that is a diamond.''

Then together they rushed out into that old
garden and stirred up the white sands with their
fingers, and lo! there came up other more beautiful
and valuable gems than the first. ``Thus,''
said the guide to me, and, friends, it is historically
true, ``was discovered the diamond-mine of
Golconda, the most magnificent diamond-mine in
all the history of mankind, excelling the Kimberly
itself. The Kohinoor, and the Orloff of the crown
jewels of England and Russia, the largest on earth,
came from that mine.''

When that old Arab guide told me the second
chapter of his story, he then took off his Turkish
cap and swung it around in the air again to get
my attention to the moral. Those Arab guides
have morals to their stories, although they are
not always moral. As he swung his hat, he said
to me, ``Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug
in his own cellar, or underneath his own wheat-
fields, or in his own garden, instead of wretchedness,
starvation, and death by suicide in a strange
land, he would have had `acres of diamonds.'
For every acre of that old farm, yes, every
shovelful, afterward revealed gems which since have
decorated the crowns of monarchs.''

When he had added the moral to his story I
saw why he reserved it for ``his particular friends.''
But I did not tell him I could see it. It was that
mean old Arab's way of going around a thing
like a lawyer, to say indirectly what he did not
dare say directly, that ``in his private opinion
there was a certain young man then traveling down
the Tigris River that might better be at home in
America.'' I did not tell him I could see that,
but I told him his story reminded me of one, and
I told it to him quick, and I think I will tell it to

I told him of a man out in California in 1847
who owned a ranch. He heard they had discovered
gold in southern California, and so with a passion
for gold he sold his ranch to Colonel Sutter, and
away he went, never to come back. Colonel
Sutter put a mill upon a stream that ran through
that ranch, and one day his little girl brought
some wet sand from the raceway into their home
and sifted it through her fingers before the fire,
and in that falling sand a visitor saw the first
shining scales of real gold that were ever discovered
in California. The man who had owned that
ranch wanted gold, and he could have secured it
for the mere taking. Indeed, thirty-eight millions
of dollars has been taken out of a very few acres
since then. About eight years ago I delivered
this lecture in a city that stands on that farm,
and they told me that a one-third owner for years
and years had been getting one hundred and
twenty dollars in gold every fifteen minutes,
sleeping or waking, without taxation. You and
I would enjoy an income like that--if we didn't
have to pay an income tax.

But a better illustration really than that
occurred here in our own Pennsylvania. If there
is anything I enjoy above another on the platform,
it is to get one of these German audiences
in Pennsylvania before me, and fire that at them,
and I enjoy it to-night. There was a man living
in Pennsylvania, not unlike some Pennsylvanians
you have seen, who owned a farm, and he did
with that farm just what I should do with a
farm if I owned one in Pennsylvania--he sold it.
But before he sold it he decided to secure employment
collecting coal-oil for his cousin, who was
in the business in Canada, where they first
discovered oil on this continent. They dipped it
from the running streams at that early time.
So this Pennsylvania farmer wrote to his cousin
asking for employment. You see, friends, this
farmer was not altogether a foolish man. No,
he was not. He did not leave his farm until he
had something else to do. _*Of all the simpletons
the stars shine on I don't know of a worse one than
the man who leaves one job before he has gotten
another_. That has especial reference to my
profession, and has no reference whatever to a man
seeking a divorce. When he wrote to his cousin
for employment, his cousin replied, ``I cannot
engage you because you know nothing about the
oil business.''

Well, then the old farmer said, ``I will know,''
and with most commendable zeal (characteristic
of the students of Temple University) he set
himself at the study of the whole subject. He
began away back at the second day of God's
creation when this world was covered thick and
deep with that rich vegetation which since has
turned to the primitive beds of coal. He studied
the subject until he found that the drainings really
of those rich beds of coal furnished the coal-oil
that was worth pumping, and then he found how
it came up with the living springs. He studied
until he knew what it looked like, smelled like,
tasted like, and how to refine it. Now said he
in his letter to his cousin, ``I understand the oil
business.'' His cousin answered, ``All right,
come on.''

So he sold his farm, according to the county
record, for $833 (even money, ``no cents''). He
had scarcely gone from that place before the man
who purchased the spot went out to arrange for
the watering of the cattle. He found the previous
owner had gone out years before and put a plank
across the brook back of the barn, edgewise into
the surface of the water just a few inches. The
purpose of that plank at that sharp angle across
the brook was to throw over to the other bank a
dreadful-looking scum through which the cattle
would not put their noses. But with that plank
there to throw it all over to one side, the cattle
would drink below, and thus that man who had
gone to Canada had been himself damming back
for twenty-three years a flood of coal-oil which the
state geologists of Pennsylvania declared to us
ten years later was even then worth a hundred
millions of dollars to our state, and four years ago
our geologist declared the discovery to be worth
to our state a thousand millions of dollars. The
man who owned that territory on which the city
of Titusville now stands, and those Pleasantville
valleys, had studied the subject from the second
day of God's creation clear down to the present
time. He studied it until he knew all about it,
and yet he is said to have sold the whole of it
for $833, and again I say, ``no sense.''

But I need another illustration. I found it in
Massachusetts, and I am sorry I did because that
is the state I came from. This young man in
Massachusetts furnishes just another phase of my
thought. He went to Yale College and studied
mines and mining, and became such an adept as
a mining engineer that he was employed by the
authorities of the university to train students who
were behind their classes. During his senior year
he earned $15 a week for doing that work. When
he graduated they raised his pay from $15 to $45
a week, and offered him a professorship, and as
soon as they did he went right home to his mother.

_*If they had raised that boy's pay from $15 to $15.60
he would have stayed and been proud of the place,
but when they put it up to $45 at one leap, he said,
``Mother, I won't work for $45 a week. The idea
of a man with a brain like mine working for $45
a week!_ Let's go out in California and stake out
gold-mines and silver-mines, and be immensely rich.''

Said his mother, ``Now, Charlie, it is just as
well to be happy as it is to be rich.''

``Yes,'' said Charlie, ``but it is just as well to
be rich and happy, too.'' And they were both
right about it. As he was an only son and
she a widow, of course he had his way. They
always do.

They sold out in Massachusetts, and instead
of going to California they went to Wisconsin,
where he went into the employ of the Superior
Copper Mining Company at $15 a week again,
but with the proviso in his contract that he should
have an interest in any mines he should discover
for the company. I don't believe he ever discovered
a mine, and if I am looking in the face of any
stockholder of that copper company you wish
he had discovered something or other. I have
friends who are not here because they could not
afford a ticket, who did have stock in that company
at the time this young man was employed
there. This young man went out there, and I
have not heard a word from him. I don't know
what became of him, and I don't know whether
he found any mines or not, but I don't believe
he ever did.

But I do know the other end of the line. He
had scarcely gotten out of the old homestead before
the succeeding owner went out to dig potatoes.
The potatoes were already growing in the ground
when he bought the farm, and as the old farmer
was bringing in a basket of potatoes it hugged
very tight between the ends of the stone fence.
You know in Massachusetts our farms are nearly
all stone wall. There you are obliged to be very
economical of front gateways in order to have
some place to put the stone. When that basket
hugged so tight he set it down on the ground,
and then dragged on one side, and pulled on the
other side, and as he was dragging that basket
through this farmer noticed in the upper and
outer corner of that stone wall, right next the
gate, a block of native silver eight inches square.
That professor of mines, mining, and mineralogy
who knew so much about the subject that he
would not work for $45 a week, when he sold
that homestead in Massachusetts sat right on
that silver to make the bargain. He was born
on that homestead, was brought up there, and
had gone back and forth rubbing the stone with
his sleeve until it reflected his countenance, and
seemed to say, ``Here is a hundred thousand
dollars right down here just for the taking.''
But he would not take it. It was in a home in
Newburyport, Massachusetts, and there was no
silver there, all away off--well, I don't know where,
and he did not, but somewhere else, and he was
a professor of mineralogy.

My friends, that mistake is very universally
made, and why should we even smile at him. I
often wonder what has become of him. I do not
know at all, but I will tell you what I ``guess''
as a Yankee. I guess that he sits out there by his
fireside to-night with his friends gathered around
him, and he is saying to them something like this:
``Do you know that man Conwell who lives in
Philadelphia?'' ``Oh yes, I have heard of him.''
``Do you know that man Jones that lives in
Philadelphia?'' ``Yes, I have heard of him, too.''

Then he begins to laugh, and shakes his sides
and says to his friends, ``Well, they have done
just the same thing I did, precisely''--and that
spoils the whole joke, for you and I have done
the same thing he did, and while we sit here and
laugh at him he has a better right to sit out there
and laugh at us. I know I have made the same
mistakes, but, of course, that does not make any
difference, because we don't expect the same man
to preach and practise, too.

As I come here to-night and look around this
audience I am seeing again what through these
fifty years I have continually seen-men that are
making precisely that same mistake. I often wish
I could see the younger people, and would that the
Academy had been filled to-night with our high-
school scholars and our grammar-school scholars,
that I could have them to talk to. While I would
have preferred such an audience as that, because
they are most susceptible, as they have not grown
up into their prejudices as we have, they have
not gotten into any custom that they cannot
break, they have not met with any failures as
we have; and while I could perhaps do such an
audience as that more good than I can do grown-
up people, yet I will do the best I can with the
material I have. I say to you that you have
``acres of diamonds'' in Philadelphia right where
you now live. ``Oh,'' but you will say, ``you
cannot know much about your city if you think
there are any `acres of diamonds' here.''

I was greatly interested in that account in the
newspaper of the young man who found that
diamond in North Carolina. It was one of the
purest diamonds that has ever been discovered,
and it has several predecessors near the same
locality. I went to a distinguished professor in
mineralogy and asked him where he thought those
diamonds came from. The professor secured the
map of the geologic formations of our continent,
and traced it. He said it went either through the
underlying carboniferous strata adapted for such
production, westward through Ohio and the
Mississippi, or in more probability came eastward
through Virginia and up the shore of the Atlantic
Ocean. It is a fact that the diamonds were there,
for they have been discovered and sold; and that
they were carried down there during the drift
period, from some northern locality. Now who
can say but some person going down with his
drill in Philadelphia will find some trace of a
diamond-mine yet down here? Oh, friends! you cannot
say that you are not over one of the greatest
diamond-mines in the world, for such a diamond
as that only comes from the most profitable mines
that are found on earth.

But it serves simply to illustrate my thought,
which I emphasize by saying if you do not have
the actual diamond-mines literally you have all
that they would be good for to you. Because
now that the Queen of England has given the
greatest compliment ever conferred upon American
woman for her attire because she did not appear
with any jewels at all at the late reception in
England, it has almost done away with the use
of diamonds anyhow. All you would care for
would be the few you would wear if you wish
to be modest, and the rest you would sell for

Now then, I say again that the opportunity
to get rich, to attain unto great wealth, is here
in Philadelphia now, within the reach of almost
every man and woman who hears me speak to-
night, and I mean just what I say. I have not
come to this platform even under these circumstances
to recite something to you. I have come
to tell you what in God's sight I believe to be the
truth, and if the years of life have been of any
value to me in the attainment of common sense,
I know I am right; that the men and women sitting
here, who found it difficult perhaps to buy
a ticket to this lecture or gathering to-night, have
within their reach ``acres of diamonds,'' opportunities
to get largely wealthy. There never was
a place on earth more adapted than the city of
Philadelphia to-day, and never in the history of
the world did a poor man without capital have
such an opportunity to get rich quickly and
honestly as he has now in our city. I say it is the
truth, and I want you to accept it as such; for
if you think I have come to simply recite something,
then I would better not be here. I have no
time to waste in any such talk, but to say the
things I believe, and unless some of you get
richer for what I am saying to-night my time is

I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your
duty to get rich. How many of my pious brethren
say to me, ``Do you, a Christian minister, spend
your time going up and down the country advising
young people to get rich, to get money?'' ``Yes,
of course I do.'' They say, ``Isn't that awful!
Why don't you preach the gospel instead of
preaching about man's making money?'' ``Because
to make money honestly is to preach the
gospel.'' That is the reason. The men who get
rich may be the most honest men you find in the

``Oh,'' but says some young man here to-night,
``I have been told all my life that if a person has
money he is very dishonest and dishonorable and
mean and contemptible. ``My friend, that is
the reason why you have none, because you have
that idea of people. The foundation of your faith
is altogether false. Let me say here clearly, and
say it briefly, though subject to discussion which
I have not time for here, ninety-eight out of one
hundred of the rich men of America are honest.
That is why they are rich. That is why they are
trusted with money. That is why they carry on
great enterprises and find plenty of people to
work with them. It is because they are honest men.

Says another young man, ``I hear sometimes
of men that get millions of dollars dishonestly.''
Yes, of course you do, and so do I. But they are
so rare a thing in fact that the newspapers talk
about them all the time as a matter of news until
you get the idea that all the other rich men got
rich dishonestly.

My friend, you take and drive me--if you furnish
the auto--out into the suburbs of Philadelphia,
and introduce me to the people who own
their homes around this great city, those beautiful
homes with gardens and flowers, those magnificent
homes so lovely in their art, and I will introduce
you to the very best people in character as well as
in enterprise in our city, and you know I will.
A man is not really a true man until he owns his
own home, and they that own their homes are
made more honorable and honest and pure, and
true and economical and careful, by owning the home.

For a man to have money, even in large sums,
is not an inconsistent thing. We preach against
covetousness, and you know we do, in the pulpit,
and oftentimes preach against it so long and
use the terms about ``filthy lucre'' so extremely
that Christians get the idea that when we stand
in the pulpit we believe it is wicked for any man
to have money--until the collection-basket goes
around, and then we almost swear at the people
because they don't give more money. Oh, the
inconsistency of such doctrines as that!

Money is power, and you ought to be reasonably
ambitious to have it. You ought because you
can do more good with it than you could without
it. Money printed your Bible, money builds your
churches, money sends your missionaries, and
money pays your preachers, and you would not
have many of them, either, if you did not pay
them. I am always willing that my church should
raise my salary, because the church that pays the
largest salary always raises it the easiest. You
never knew an exception to it in your life. The
man who gets the largest salary can do the most
good with the power that is furnished to him.
Of course he can if his spirit be right to use it
for what it is given to him.

I say, then, you ought to have money. If
you can honestly attain unto riches in Philadelphia,
it is your Christian and godly duty to do so.
It is an awful mistake of these pious people to
think you must be awfully poor in order to be pious.

Some men say, ``Don't you sympathize with
the poor people?'' Of course I do, or else I would
not have been lecturing these years. I won't
give in but what I sympathize with the poor, but
the number of poor who are to be sympathized
with is very small. To sympathize with a man
whom God has punished for his sins, thus to help
him when God would still continue a just punishment,
is to do wrong, no doubt about it, and we
do that more than we help those who are
deserving. While we should sympathize with God's
poor--that is, those who cannot help themselves--
let us remember there is not a poor person in the
United States who was not made poor by his own
shortcomings, or by the shortcomings of some one
else. It is all wrong to be poor, anyhow. Let us
give in to that argument and pass that to one side.

A gentleman gets up back there, and says,
``Don't you think there are some things in this
world that are better than money?'' Of course I
do, but I am talking about money now. Of course
there are some things higher than money. Oh
yes, I know by the grave that has left me standing
alone that there are some things in this world
that are higher and sweeter and purer than
money. Well do I know there are some things
higher and grander than gold. Love is the grandest
thing on God's earth, but fortunate the lover
who has plenty of money. Money is power,
money is force, money will do good as well as
harm. In the hands of good men and women it
could accomplish, and it has accomplished, good.

I hate to leave that behind me. I heard a
man get up in a prayer-meeting in our city and
thank the Lord he was ``one of God's poor.''
Well, I wonder what his wife thinks about that?
She earns all the money that comes into that
house, and he smokes a part of that on the veranda.
I don't want to see any more of the Lord's poor
of that kind, and I don't believe the Lord does.
And yet there are some people who think in order
to be pious you must be awfully poor and awfully
dirty. That does not follow at all. While we
sympathize with the poor, let us not teach a doctrine
like that.

Yet the age is prejudiced against advising a
Christian man (or, as a Jew would say, a godly
man) from attaining unto wealth. The prejudice
is so universal and the years are far enough back,
I think, for me to safely mention that years ago
up at Temple University there was a young man
in our theological school who thought he was the
only pious student in that department. He came
into my office one evening and sat down by my
desk, and said to me: ``Mr. President, I think it
is my duty sir, to come in and labor with you.''
``What has happened now?'' Said he, ``I heard
you say at the Academy, at the Peirce School
commencement, that you thought it was an honorable
ambition for a young man to desire to have
wealth, and that you thought it made him temperate,
made him anxious to have a good name, and
made him industrious. You spoke about man's
ambition to have money helping to make him a
good man. Sir, I have come to tell you the Holy
Bible says that `money is the root of all evil.' ''

I told him I had never seen it in the Bible,
and advised him to go out into the chapel and get
the Bible, and show me the place. So out he went
for the Bible, and soon he stalked into my office
with the Bible open, with all the bigoted pride
of the narrow sectarian, or of one who founds his
Christianity on some misinterpretation of Scripture.
He flung the Bible down on my desk, and
fairly squealed into my ear: ``There it is, Mr.
President; you can read it for yourself.'' I said
to him: ``Well, young man, you will learn when
you get a little older that you cannot trust another
denomination to read the Bible for you. You belong
to another denomination. You are taught in
the theological school, however, that emphasis is
exegesis. Now, will you take that Bible and read
it yourself, and give the proper emphasis to it?''

He took the Bible, and proudly read, `` `The
love of money is the root of all evil.' ''

Then he had it right, and when one does quote
aright from that same old Book he quotes the
absolute truth. I have lived through fifty years
of the mightiest battle that old Book has ever
fought, and I have lived to see its banners flying
free; for never in the history of this world did
the great minds of earth so universally agree
that the Bible is true--all true--as they do at
this very hour.

So I say that when he quoted right, of course
he quoted the absolute truth. ``The love of
money is the root of all evil.'' He who tries to
attain unto it too quickly, or dishonestly, will
fall into many snares, no doubt about that. The
love of money. What is that? It is making an
idol of money, and idolatry pure and simple
everywhere is condemned by the Holy Scriptures and
by man's common sense. The man that worships
the dollar instead of thinking of the purposes for
which it ought to be used, the man who idolizes
simply money, the miser that hordes his money
in the cellar, or hides it in his stocking, or refuses
to invest it where it will do the world good, that
man who hugs the dollar until the eagle squeals
has in him the root of all evil.

I think I will leave that behind me now and
answer the question of nearly all of you who are
asking, ``Is there opportunity to get rich in
Philadelphia?'' Well, now, how simple a thing it is
to see where it is, and the instant you see where
it is it is yours. Some old gentleman gets up back
there and says, ``Mr. Conwell, have you lived in
Philadelphia for thirty-one years and don't know
that the time has gone by when you can make
anything in this city?'' ``No, I don't think it is.''
``Yes, it is; I have tried it.'' ``What business
are you in?'' ``I kept a store here for twenty
years, and never made over a thousand dollars
in the whole twenty years.''

``Well, then, you can measure the good you
have been to this city by what this city has paid
you, because a man can judge very well what he
is worth by what he receives; that is, in what he
is to the world at this time. If you have not made
over a thousand dollars in twenty years in Philadelphia,
it would have been better for Philadelphia
if they had kicked you out of the city nineteen
years and nine months ago. A man has no right
to keep a store in Philadelphia twenty years and
not make at least five hundred thousand dollars
even though it be a corner grocery up-town.'
You say, ``You cannot make five thousand dollars
in a store now.'' Oh, my friends, if you will
just take only four blocks around you, and find
out what the people want and what you ought
to supply and set them down with your pencil
and figure up the profits you would make if you
did supply them, you would very soon see it.
There is wealth right within the sound of your

Some one says: ``You don't know anything
about business. A preacher never knows a thing
about business.'' Well, then, I will have to prove
that I am an expert. I don't like to do this, but
I have to do it because my testimony will not be
taken if I am not an expert. My father kept a
country store, and if there is any place under the
stars where a man gets all sorts of experience in
every kind of mercantile transactions, it is in the
country store. I am not proud of my experience,
but sometimes when my father was away he would
leave me in charge of the store, though fortunately
for him that was not very often. But this did
occur many times, friends: A man would come
in the store, and say to me, ``Do you keep jack
knives?'' ``No, we don't keep jack-knives,'' and
I went off whistling a tune. What did I care
about that man, anyhow? Then another farmer
would come in and say, ``Do you keep jack
knives?'' ``No, we don't keep jack-knives.''
Then I went away and whistled another tune.
Then a third man came right in the same door and
said, ``Do you keep jack-knives?'' ``No. Why
is every one around here asking for jack-knives?
Do you suppose we are keeping this store to supply
the whole neighborhood with jack-knives?''
Do you carry on your store like that in Philadelphia?
The difficulty was I had not then learned
that the foundation of godliness and the foundation
principle of success in business are both the
same precisely. The man who says, ``I cannot
carry my religion into business'' advertises himself
either as being an imbecile in business, or on the
road to bankruptcy, or a thief, one of the three,
sure. He will fail within a very few years. He
certainly will if he doesn't carry his religion into
business. If I had been carrying on my father's
store on a Christian plan, godly plan, I would
have had a jack-knife for the third man when
he called for it. Then I would have actually done
him a kindness, and I would have received a
reward myself, which it would have been my
duty to take.

There are some over-pious Christian people who
think if you take any profit on anything you sell
that you are an unrighteous man. On the contrary,
you would be a criminal to sell goods for
less than they cost. You have no right to do
that. You cannot trust a man with your money
who cannot take care of his own. You cannot
trust a man in your family that is not true to his
own wife. You cannot trust a man in the world
that does not begin with his own heart, his own
character, and his own life. It would have been
my duty to have furnished a jack-knife to the
third man, or the second, and to have sold it to
him and actually profited myself. I have no more
right to sell goods without making a profit on
them than I have to overcharge him dishonestly
beyond what they are worth. But I should so
sell each bill of goods that the person to whom
I sell shall make as much as I make.

To live and let live is the principle of the
gospel, and the principle of every-day common
sense. Oh, young man, hear me; live as you go
along. Do not wait until you have reached my
years before you begin to enjoy anything of this
life. If I had the millions back, or fifty cents of
it, which I have tried to earn in these years, it
would not do me anything like the good that it
does me now in this almost sacred presence to-
night. Oh, yes, I am paid over and over a hundredfold
to-night for dividing as I have tried to
do in some measure as I went along through the
years. I ought not speak that way, it sounds
egotistic, but I am old enough now to be excused for
that. I should have helped my fellow-men, which
I have tried to do, and every one should try to do,
and get the happiness of it. The man who goes
home with the sense that he has stolen a dollar
that day, that he has robbed a man of what was his
honest due, is not going to sweet rest. He arises
tired in the morning, and goes with an unclean
conscience to his work the next day. He is not a
successful man at all, although he may have
laid up millions. But the man who has gone
through life dividing always with his fellow-men,
making and demanding his own rights and his
own profits, and giving to every other man his
rights and profits, lives every day, and not only
that, but it is the royal road to great wealth.
The history of the thousands of millionaires shows
that to be the case.

The man over there who said he could not make
anything in a store in Philadelphia has been
carrying on his store on the wrong principle.
Suppose I go into your store to-morrow morning and
ask, ``Do you know neighbor A, who lives one
square away, at house No. 1240?'' ``Oh yes,
I have met him. He deals here at the corner
store.'' ``Where did he come from?'' ``I don't
know.'' ``How many does he have in his family?''
``I don't know.'' ``What ticket does he vote?''
``I don't know.'' ``What church does he go to?''
``I don't know, and don't care. What are you
asking all these questions for?''

If you had a store in Philadelphia would you
answer me like that? If so, then you are
conducting your business just as I carried on my
father's business in Worthington, Massachusetts.
You don't know where your neighbor came from
when he moved to Philadelphia, and you don't
care. If you had cared you would be a rich man
now. If you had cared enough about him to take
an interest in his affairs, to find out what he needed,
you would have been rich. But you go through
the world saying, ``No opportunity to get rich,''
and there is the fault right at your own door.

But another young man gets up over there
and says, ``I cannot take up the mercantile
business.'' (While I am talking of trade it applies
to every occupation.) ``Why can't you go into
the mercantile business?'' ``Because I haven't
any capital.'' Oh, the weak and dudish creature
that can't see over its collar! It makes a person
weak to see these little dudes standing around
the corners and saying, ``Oh, if I had plenty of
capital, how rich I would get.'' ``Young man,
do you think you are going to get rich on capital?''
``Certainly.'' Well, I say, ``Certainly not.'' If
your mother has plenty of money, and she will
set you up in business, you will ``set her up in
business,'' supplying you with capital.

The moment a young man or woman gets more
money than he or she has grown to by practical
experience, that moment he has gotten a curse.
It is no help to a young man or woman to inherit
money. It is no help to your children to leave
them money, but if you leave them education,
if you leave them Christian and noble character,
if you leave them a wide circle of friends, if you
leave them an honorable name, it is far better
than that they should have money. It would be
worse for them, worse for the nation, that they
should have any money at all. Oh, young man, if
you have inherited money, don't regard it as a
help. It will curse you through your years, and
deprive you of the very best things of human
life. There is no class of people to be pitied so
much as the inexperienced sons and daughters of
the rich of our generation. I pity the rich man's
son. He can never know the best things in life.

One of the best things in our life is when a
young man has earned his own living, and when
he becomes engaged to some lovely young woman,
and makes up his mind to have a home of his
own. Then with that same love comes also that
divine inspiration toward better things, and he
begins to save his money. He begins to leave off
his bad habits and put money in the bank. When
he has a few hundred dollars he goes out in the
suburbs to look for a home. He goes to the
savings-bank, perhaps, for half of the value, and
then goes for his wife, and when he takes his bride
over the threshold of that door for the first time
he says in words of eloquence my voice can never
touch: ``I have earned this home myself. It
is all mine, and I divide with thee.'' That is
the grandest moment a human heart may ever

But a rich man's son can never know that.
He takes his bride into a finer mansion, it may be,
but he is obliged to go all the way through it
and say to his wife, ``My mother gave me that,
my mother gave me that, and my mother gave
me this,'' until his wife wishes she had married
his mother. I pity the rich man's son.

The statistics of Massachusetts showed that
not one rich man's son out of seventeen ever dies
rich. I pity the rich man's sons unless they have
the good sense of the elder Vanderbilt, which
sometimes happens. He went to his father and said,
``Did you earn all your money?'' ``I did, my son.
I began to work on a ferry-boat for twenty-five
cents a day.'' ``Then,'' said his son, ``I will have
none of your money,'' and he, too, tried to get
employment on a ferry-boat that Saturday night.
He could not get one there, but he did get a place
for three dollars a week. Of course, if a rich man's
son will do that, he will get the discipline of a poor
boy that is worth more than a university education
to any man. He would then be able to take care
of the millions of his father. But as a rule the
rich men will not let their sons do the very thing
that made them great. As a rule, the rich man
will not allow his son to work--and his mother!
Why, she would think it was a social disgrace
if her poor, weak, little lily-fingered, sissy sort of
a boy had to earn his living with honest toil. I
have no pity for such rich men's sons.

I remember one at Niagara Falls. I think
I remember one a great deal nearer. I think
there are gentlemen present who were at a great
banquet, and I beg pardon of his friends. At a
banquet here in Philadelphia there sat beside me
a kind-hearted young man, and he said, ``Mr.
Conwell, you have been sick for two or three years.
When you go out, take my limousine, and it will
take you up to your house on Broad Street.''
I thanked him very much, and perhaps I ought
not to mention the incident in this way, but I
follow the facts. I got on to the seat with the
driver of that limousine, outside, and when we
were going up I asked the driver, ``How much
did this limousine cost?'' ``Six thousand eight
hundred, and he had to pay the duty on it.''
``Well,'' I said, ``does the owner of this machine
ever drive it himself?'' At that the chauffeur
laughed so heartily that he lost control of his
machine. He was so surprised at the question that
he ran up on the sidewalk, and around a corner
lamp-post out into the street again. And when he
got out into the street he laughed till the whole
machine trembled. He said: ``He drive this machine!
Oh, he would be lucky if he knew enough to get out
when we get there.''

I must tell you about a rich man's son at
Niagara Falls. I came in from the lecture to the
hotel, and as I approached the desk of the clerk
there stood a millionaire's son from New York.
He was an indescribable specimen of anthropologic
potency. He had a skull-cap on one side
of his head, with a gold tassel in the top of it, and
a gold-headed cane under his arm with more in
it than in his head. It is a very difficult thing
to describe that young man. He wore an eye-
glass that he could not see through, patent-
leather boots that he could not walk in, and pants
that he could not sit down in--dressed like a
grasshopper. This human cricket came up to the
clerk's desk just as I entered, adjusted his
unseeing eye-glass, and spake in this wise to the clerk.
You see, he thought it was ``Hinglish, you know,''
to lisp. ``Thir, will you have the kindness to
supply me with thome papah and enwelophs!''
The hotel clerk measured that man quick, and
he pulled the envelopes and paper out of a drawer,
threw them across the counter toward the young
man, and then turned away to his books. You
should have seen that young man when those
envelopes came across that counter. He swelled
up like a gobbler turkey, adjusted his unseeing eye-
glass, and yelled: ``Come right back here. Now
thir, will you order a thervant to take that papah
and enwelophs to yondah dethk.'' Oh, the poor,
miserable, contemptible American monkey! He
could not carry paper and envelopes twenty feet.
I suppose he could not get his arms down to do
it. I have no pity for such travesties upon human
nature. If you have not capital, young man, I
am glad of it. What you need is common sense,
not copper cents.

The best thing I can do is to illustrate by actual
facts well-known to you all. A. T. Stewart, a
poor boy in New York, had $1.50 to begin life on.
He lost 87 <1/2> cents of that on the very first venture.
How fortunate that young man who loses the
first time he gambles. That boy said, ``I will
never gamble again in business,'' and he never
did. How came he to lose 87 <1/2> cents? You
probably all know the story how he lost it--because
he bought some needles, threads, and buttons to
sell which people did not want, and had them left
on his hands, a dead loss. Said the boy, ``I will
not lose any more money in that way.'' Then he
went around first to the doors and asked the people
what they did want. Then when he had found
out what they wanted he invested his 62 <1/2>
cents to supply a known demand. Study it wherever
you choose--in business, in your profession,
in your housekeeping, whatever your life, that
one thing is the secret of success. You must
first know the demand. You must first know
what people need, and then invest yourself where
you are most needed. A. T. Stewart went on
that principle until he was worth what amounted
afterward to forty millions of dollars, owning
the very store in which Mr. Wanamaker carries
on his great work in New York. His fortune was
made by his losing something, which taught him
the great lesson that he must only invest himself
or his money in something that people need.
When will you salesmen learn it? When will
you manufacturers learn that you must know the
changing needs of humanity if you would succeed
in life? Apply yourselves, all you Christian people,
as manufacturers or merchants or workmen
to supply that human need. It is a great principle
as broad as humanity and as deep as the Scripture

The best illustration I ever heard was of John
Jacob Astor. You know that he made the money
of the Astor family when he lived in New York.
He came across the sea in debt for his fare. But
that poor boy with nothing in his pocket made the
fortune of the Astor family on one principle.
Some young man here to-night will say, ``Well
they could make those fortunes over in New York
but they could not do it in Philadelphia!'' My
friends, did you ever read that wonderful book of
Riis (his memory is sweet to us because of his
recent death), wherein is given his statistical
account of the records taken in 1889 of 107
millionaires of New York. If you read the account
you will see that out of the 107 millionaires only
seven made their money in New York. Out
of the 107 millionaires worth ten million dollars
in real estate then, 67 of them made their money
in towns of less than 3,500 inhabitants. The
richest man in this country to-day, if you read
the real-estate values, has never moved away from
a town of 3,500 inhabitants. It makes not so
much difference where you are as who you are.
But if you cannot get rich in Philadelphia you
certainly cannot do it in New York.

Now John Jacob Astor illustrated what can
be done anywhere. He had a mortgage once on
a millinery-store, and they could not sell bonnets
enough to pay the interest on his money. So
he foreclosed that mortgage, took possession of
the store, and went into partnership with the very
same people, in the same store, with the same
capital. He did not give them a dollar of capital.
They had to sell goods to get any money. Then
he left them alone in the store just as they had
been before, and he went out and sat down on
a bench in the park in the shade. What was
John Jacob Astor doing out there, and in partnership
with people who had failed on his own hands?
He had the most important and, to my mind, the
most pleasant part of that partnership on his
hands. For as John Jacob Astor sat on that bench
he was watching the ladies as they went by;
and where is the man who would not get rich at
that business? As he sat on the bench if a lady
passed him with her shoulders back and head
up, and looked straight to the front, as if she
did not care if all the world did gaze on her, then
he studied her bonnet, and by the time it was
out of sight he knew the shape of the frame, the
color of the trimmings, and the crinklings in the
feather. I sometimes try to describe a bonnet,
but not always. I would not try to describe a
modern bonnet. Where is the man that could
describe one? This aggregation of all sorts of
driftwood stuck on the back of the head, or the
side of the neck, like a rooster with only one tail
feather left. But in John Jacob Astor's day there
was some art about the millinery business, and
he went to the millinery-store and said to them:
``Now put into the show-window just such a
bonnet as I describe to you, because I have already
seen a lady who likes such a bonnet. Don't make
up any more until I come back.'' Then he went
out and sat down again, and another lady passed
him of a different form, of different complexion,
with a different shape and color of bonnet. ``Now,''
said he, ``put such a bonnet as that in the show
window.'' He did not fill his show-window up
town with a lot of hats and bonnets to drive
people away, and then sit on the back stairs and
bawl because people went to Wanamaker's to
trade. He did not have a hat or a bonnet in that
show-window but what some lady liked before
it was made up. The tide of custom began immediately
to turn in, and that has been the foundation
of the greatest store in New York in that line,
and still exists as one of three stores. Its fortune
was made by John Jacob Astor after they had
failed in business, not by giving them any more
money, but by finding out what the ladies liked
for bonnets before they wasted any material in
making them up. I tell you if a man could foresee
the millinery business he could foresee anything
under heaven!

Suppose I were to go through this audience
to-night and ask you in this great manufacturing
city if there are not opportunities to get rich in
manufacturing. ``Oh yes,'' some young man says,
``there are opportunities here still if you build
with some trust and if you have two or three
millions of dollars to begin with as capital.''
Young man, the history of the breaking up of the
trusts by that attack upon ``big business'' is only
illustrating what is now the opportunity of the
smaller man. The time never came in the history
of the world when you could get rich so quickly
manufacturing without capital as you can now.

But you will say, ``You cannot do anything
of the kind. You cannot start without capital.''
Young man, let me illustrate for a moment. I
must do it. It is my duty to every young man and
woman, because we are all going into business
very soon on the same plan. Young man, remember
if you know what people need you have
gotten more knowledge of a fortune than any
amount of capital can give you.

There was a poor man out of work living in
Hingham, Massachusetts. He lounged around the
house until one day his wife told him to get out
and work, and, as he lived in Massachusetts, he
obeyed his wife. He went out and sat down on
the shore of the bay, and whittled a soaked
shingle into a wooden chain. His children that
evening quarreled over it, and he whittled a
second one to keep peace. While he was whittling
the second one a neighbor came in and said:
``Why don't you whittle toys and sell them? You
could make money at that.'' ``Oh,'' he said, ``I
would not know what to make.'' ``Why don't
you ask your own children right here in your
own house what to make?'' ``What is the use
of trying that?'' said the carpenter. ``My children
are different from other people's children.''
(I used to see people like that when I taught
school.) But he acted upon the hint, and the
next morning when Mary came down the stairway,
he asked, ``What do you want for a toy?''
She began to tell him she would like a doll's bed,
a doll's washstand, a doll's carriage, a little doll's
umbrella, and went on with a list of things that
would take him a lifetime to supply. So, consulting
his own children, in his own house, he took
the firewood, for he had no money to buy lumber,
and whittled those strong, unpainted Hingham
toys that were for so many years known all over
the world. That man began to make those toys
for his own children, and then made copies and
sold them through the boot-and-shoe store next
door. He began to make a little money, and then
a little more, and Mr. Lawson, in his _Frenzied
Finance_ says that man is the richest man in old
Massachusetts, and I think it is the truth. And
that man is worth a hundred millions of dollars
to-day, and has been only thirty-four years making
it on that one principle--that one must judge
that what his own children like at home other
people's children would like in their homes, too;
to judge the human heart by oneself, by one's
wife or by one's children. It is the royal road to
success in manufacturing. ``Oh,'' but you say,
``didn't he have any capital?'' Yes, a penknife,
but I don't know that he had paid for that.

I spoke thus to an audience in New Britain,
Connecticut, and a lady four seats back went home
and tried to take off her collar, and the collar-
button stuck in the buttonhole. She threw it
out and said, ``I am going to get up something
better than that to put on collars.'' Her husband
said: ``After what Conwell said to-night, you see
there is a need of an improved collar-fastener that
is easier to handle. There is a human need;
there is a great fortune. Now, then, get up a
collar-button and get rich.'' He made fun of her,
and consequently made fun of me, and that is
one of the saddest things which comes over me
like a deep cloud of midnight sometimes--although
I have worked so hard for more than half a century,
yet how little I have ever really done.
Notwithstanding the greatness and the handsomeness
of your compliment to-night, I do not
believe there is one in ten of you that is going to
make a million of dollars because you are here
to-night; but it is not my fault, it is yours. I
say that sincerely. What is the use of my talking
if people never do what I advise them to do?
When her husband ridiculed her, she made up her
mind she would make a better collar-button, and
when a woman makes up her mind ``she will,''
and does not say anything about it, she does it.
It was that New England woman who invented
the snap button which you can find anywhere
now. It was first a collar-button with a spring
cap attached to the outer side. Any of you who
wear modern waterproofs know the button that
simply pushes together, and when you unbutton
it you simply pull it apart. That is the button
to which I refer, and which she invented. She
afterward invented several other buttons, and
then invested in more, and then was taken into
partnership with great factories. Now that woman
goes over the sea every summer in her private
steamship--yes, and takes her husband with her!
If her husband were to die, she would have money
enough left now to buy a foreign duke or count
or some such title as that at the latest quotations.

Now what is my lesson in that incident? It
is this: I told her then, though I did not know
her, what I now say to you, ``Your wealth is too
near to you. You are looking right over it'';
and she had to look over it because it was right
under her chin.

I have read in the newspaper that a woman
never invented anything. Well, that newspaper
ought to begin again. Of course, I do not refer
to gossip--I refer to machines--and if I did I
might better include the men. That newspaper
could never appear if women had not invented
something. Friends, think. Ye women, think!
You say you cannot make a fortune because you
are in some laundry, or running a sewing-machine,
it may be, or walking before some loom, and yet
you can be a millionaire if you will but follow
this almost infallible direction.

When you say a woman doesn't invent anything,
I ask, Who invented the Jacquard loom that wove
every stitch you wear? Mrs. Jacquard. The
printer's roller, the printing-press, were invented
by farmers' wives. Who invented the cotton-gin
of the South that enriched our country so amazingly?
Mrs. General Greene invented the cotton-
gin and showed the idea to Mr. Whitney, and he,
like a man, seized it. Who was it that invented
the sewing-machine? If I would go to school to-
morrow and ask your children they would say,
``Elias Howe.''

He was in the Civil War with me, and often in
my tent, and I often heard him say that he worked
fourteen years to get up that sewing-machine.
But his wife made up her mind one day that they
would starve to death if there wasn't something
or other invented pretty soon, and so in two hours
she invented the sewing-machine. Of course he
took out the patent in his name. Men always do
that. Who was it that invented the mower and
the reaper? According to Mr. McCormick's
confidential communication, so recently published, it
was a West Virginia woman, who, after his father
and he had failed altogether in making a reaper
and gave it up, took a lot of shears and nailed
them together on the edge of a board, with one
shaft of each pair loose, and then wired them so
that when she pulled the wire one way it closed
them, and when she pulled the wire the other
way it opened them, and there she had the principle
of the mowing-machine. If you look at a
mowing-machine, you will see it is nothing but
a lot of shears. If a woman can invent a mowing-
machine, if a woman can invent a Jacquard loom,
if a woman can invent a cotton-gin, if a woman can
invent a trolley switch--as she did and made the
trolleys possible; if a woman can invent, as Mr.
Carnegie said, the great iron squeezers that laid
the foundation of all the steel millions of the
United States, ``we men'' can invent anything
under the stars! I say that for the encouragement
of the men.

Who are the great inventors of the world?
Again this lesson comes before us. The great
inventor sits next to you, or you are the person
yourself. ``Oh,'' but you will say, ``I have never
invented anything in my life.'' Neither did the
great inventors until they discovered one great
secret. Do you think it is a man with a head like a
bushel measure or a man like a stroke of lightning?
It is neither. The really great man is a plain,
straightforward, every-day, common-sense man.
You would not dream that he was a great inventor
if you did not see something he had actually done.
His neighbors do not regard him so great. You
never see anything great over your back fence.
You say there is no greatness among your neighbors.
It is all away off somewhere else. Their
greatness is ever so simple, so plain, so earnest,
so practical, that the neighbors and friends never
recognize it.

True greatness is often unrecognized. That is
sure. You do not know anything about the
greatest men and women. I went out to write
the life of General Garfield, and a neighbor, knowing
I was in a hurry, and as there was a great
crowd around the front door, took me around to
General Garfield's back door and shouted, ``Jim!
Jim!'' And very soon ``Jim'' came to the door
and let me in, and I wrote the biography of one
of the grandest men of the nation, and yet he
was just the same old ``Jim'' to his neighbor.
If you know a great man in Philadelphia and you
should meet him to-morrow, you would say,
``How are you, Sam?'' or ``Good morning, Jim.''
Of course you would. That is just what you would

One of my soldiers in the Civil War had been
sentenced to death, and I went up to the White
House in Washington--sent there for the first
time in my life to see the President. I went
into the waiting-room and sat down with a lot
of others on the benches, and the secretary asked
one after another to tell him what they wanted.
After the secretary had been through the line,
he went in, and then came back to the door and
motioned for me. I went up to that anteroom,
and the secretary said: ``That is the President's
door right over there. Just rap on it and go
right in.'' I never was so taken aback, friends,
in all my life, never. The secretary himself made
it worse for me, because he had told me how to
go in and then went out another door to the
left and shut that. There I was, in the hallway
by myself before the President of the United
States of America's door. I had been on fields of
battle, where the shells did sometimes shriek and
the bullets did sometimes hit me, but I always
wanted to run. I have no sympathy with the
old man who says, ``I would just as soon march
up to the cannon's mouth as eat my dinner.''
I have no faith in a man who doesn't know enough
to be afraid when he is being shot at. I never
was so afraid when the shells came around us
at Antietam as I was when I went into that room
that day; but I finally mustered the courage--
I don't know how I ever did--and at arm's-
length tapped on the door. The man inside did
not help me at all, but yelled out, ``Come in and
sit down!''

Well, I went in and sat down on the edge of a
chair, and wished I were in Europe, and the man
at the table did not look up. He was one of the
world's greatest men, and was made great by one
single rule. Oh, that all the young people of
Philadelphia were before me now and I could say
just this one thing, and that they would remember
it. I would give a lifetime for the effect it would
have on our city and on civilization. Abraham
Lincoln's principle for greatness can be adopted
by nearly all. This was his rule: Whatsoever he
had to do at all, he put his whole mind into it and
held it all there until that was all done. That
makes men great almost anywhere. He stuck to
those papers at that table and did not look up
at me, and I sat there trembling. Finally, when
he had put the string around his papers, he pushed
them over to one side and looked over to me, and
a smile came over his worn face. He said: ``I
am a very busy man and have only a few minutes
to spare. Now tell me in the fewest words what it
is you want.'' I began to tell him, and mentioned
the case, and he said: ``I have heard all about
it and you do not need to say any more. Mr.
Stanton was talking to me only a few days ago
about that. You can go to the hotel and rest
assured that the President never did sign an order
to shoot a boy under twenty years of age, and
never will. You can say that to his mother anyhow.''

Then he said to me, ``How is it going in the
field?'' I said, ``We sometimes get discouraged.''
And he said: ``It is all right. We are going to
win out now. We are getting very near the light.
No man ought to wish to be President of the
United States, and I will be glad when I get
through; then Tad and I are going out to Springfield,
Illinois. I have bought a farm out there
and I don't care if I again earn only twenty-five
cents a day. Tad has a mule team, and we are
going to plant onions.''

Then he asked me, ``Were you brought up on a
farm?'' I said, ``Yes; in the Berkshire Hills of
Massachusetts.'' He then threw his leg over the
corner of the big chair and said, ``I have heard
many a time, ever since I was young, that up
there in those hills you have to sharpen the noses
of the sheep in order to get down to the grass
between the rocks.'' He was so familiar, so everyday,
so farmer-like, that I felt right at home with
him at once.

He then took hold of another roll of paper, and
looked up at me and said, ``Good morning.'' I
took the hint then and got up and went out.
After I had gotten out I could not realize I had
seen the President of the United States at all.
But a few days later, when still in the city, I saw
the crowd pass through the East Room by the
coffin of Abraham Lincoln, and when I looked
at the upturned face of the murdered President
I felt then that the man I had seen such a short
time before, who, so simple a man, so plain a
man, was one of the greatest men that God ever
raised up to lead a nation on to ultimate liberty.
Yet he was only ``Old Abe'' to his neighbors.
When they had the second funeral, I was invited
among others, and went out to see that same
coffin put back in the tomb at Springfield. Around
the tomb stood Lincoln's old neighbors, to whom
he was just ``Old Abe.'' Of course that is all they
would say.

Did you ever see a man who struts around
altogether too large to notice an ordinary working
mechanic? Do you think he is great? He is
nothing but a puffed-up balloon, held down by
his big feet. There is no greatness there.

Who are the great men and women? My
attention was called the other day to the history
of a very little thing that made the fortune of a
very poor man. It was an awful thing, and yet
because of that experience he--not a great inventor
or genius--invented the pin that now is called
the safety-pin, and out of that safety-pin made
the fortune of one of the great aristocratic families
of this nation.

A poor man in Massachusetts who had worked
in the nail-works was injured at thirty-eight, and
he could earn but little money. He was employed
in the office to rub out the marks on the bills
made by pencil memorandums, and he used a
rubber until his hand grew tired. He then tied a
piece of rubber on the end of a stick and worked
it like a plane. His little girl came and said,
``Why, you have a patent, haven't you?'' The
father said afterward, ``My daughter told me
when I took that stick and put the rubber on
the end that there was a patent, and that was the
first thought of that.'' He went to Boston and
applied for his patent, and every one of you that
has a rubber-tipped pencil in your pocket is now
paying tribute to the millionaire. No capital,
not a penny did he invest in it. All was income,
all the way up into the millions.

But let me hasten to one other greater thought.
``Show me the great men and women who live
in Philadelphia.'' A gentleman over there will
get up and say: ``We don't have any great men
in Philadelphia. They don't live here. They live
away off in Rome or St. Petersburg or London or
Manayunk, or anywhere else but here in our
town.'' I have come now to the apex of my
thought. I have come now to the heart of the
whole matter and to the center of my struggle:
Why isn't Philadelphia a greater city in its
greater wealth? Why does New York excel
Philadelphia? People say, ``Because of her harbor.''
Why do many other cities of the United States
get ahead of Philadelphia now? There is only
one answer, and that is because our own people
talk down their own city. If there ever was a
community on earth that has to be forced ahead,
it is the city of Philadelphia. If we are to have a
boulevard, talk it down; if we are going to have
better schools, talk them down; if you wish to
have wise legislation, talk it down; talk all the
proposed improvements down. That is the only
great wrong that I can lay at the feet of the
magnificent Philadelphia that has been so universally
kind to me. I say it is time we turn around in our
city and begin to talk up the things that are in
our city, and begin to set them before the world
as the people of Chicago, New York, St. Louis,
and San Francisco do. Oh, if we only could get
that spirit out among our people, that we can do
things in Philadelphia and do them well!

Arise, ye millions of Philadelphians, trust in
God and man, and believe in the great opportunities
that are right here not over in New York
or Boston, but here--for business, for everything
that is worth living for on earth. There was
never an opportunity greater. Let us talk up
our own city.

But there are two other young men here to-
night, and that is all I will venture to say, because
it is too late. One over there gets up and says,
``There is going to be a great man in Philadelphia,
but never was one.'' ``Oh, is that so? When are
you going to be great?'' ``When I am elected to
some political office.'' Young man, won't you
learn a lesson in the primer of politics that it is
a _prima facie_ evidence of littleness to hold office
under our form of government? Great men get
into office sometimes, but what this country needs
is men that will do what we tell them to do.
This nation--where the people rule--is governed
by the people, for the people, and so long as it is,
then the office-holder is but the servant of the
people, and the Bible says the servant cannot be
greater than the master. The Bible says, ``He
that is sent cannot be greater than Him who sent
Him.'' The people rule, or should rule, and if
they do, we do not need the greater men in office.
If the great men in America took our offices, we
would change to an empire in the next ten years.

I know of a great many young women, now
that woman's suffrage is coming, who say, ``I
am going to be President of the United States
some day.'' I believe in woman's suffrage, and
there is no doubt but what it is coming, and I
am getting out of the way, anyhow. I may want
an office by and by myself; but if the ambition
for an office influences the women in their desire
to vote, I want to say right here what I say to the
young men, that if you only get the privilege of
casting one vote, you don't get anything that is
worth while. Unless you can control more than
one vote, you will be unknown, and your influence
so dissipated as practically not to be felt. This
country is not run by votes. Do you think it is?
It is governed by influence. It is governed by
the ambitions and the enterprises which control
votes. The young woman that thinks she is going
to vote for the sake of holding an office is making
an awful blunder.

That other young man gets up and says, ``There
are going to be great men in this country and in
Philadelphia.'' ``Is that so? When?'' ``When
there comes a great war, when we get into difficulty
through watchful waiting in Mexico; when we
get into war with England over some frivolous
deed, or with Japan or China or New Jersey or
some distant country. Then I will march up to
the cannon's mouth; I will sweep up among the
glistening bayonets; I will leap into the arena and
tear down the flag and bear it away in triumph.
I will come home with stars on my shoulder, and
hold every office in the gift of the nation, and I
will be great.'' No, you won't. You think you
are going to be made great by an office, but
remember that if you are not great before you
get the office, you won't be great when you secure
it. It will only be a burlesque in that shape.

We had a Peace Jubilee here after the Spanish
War. Out West they don't believe this, because
they said, ``Philadelphia would not have heard
of any Spanish War until fifty years hence.''
Some of you saw the procession go up Broad
Street. I was away, but the family wrote to me
that the tally-ho coach with Lieutenant Hobson
upon it stopped right at the front door and the
people shouted, ``Hurrah for Hobson!'' and if I
had been there I would have yelled too, because
he deserves much more of his country than he
has ever received. But suppose I go into school
and say, ``Who sunk the _Merrimac_ at Santiago?''
and if the boys answer me, ``Hobson,'' they will
tell me seven-eighths of a lie. There were seven
other heroes on that steamer, and they, by virtue
of their position, were continually exposed to the
Spanish fire, while Hobson, as an officer, might
reasonably be behind the smoke-stack. You have
gathered in this house your most intelligent people,
and yet, perhaps, not one here can name the other
seven men.

We ought not to so teach history. We ought to
teach that, however humble a man's station may
be, if he does his full duty in that place he is
just as much entitled to the American people's
honor as is the king upon his throne. But we do
not so teach. We are now teaching everywhere
that the generals do all the fighting.

I remember that, after the war, I went down
to see General Robert E. Lee, that magnificent
Christian gentleman of whom both North and
South are now proud as one of our great Americans.
The general told me about his servant, ``Rastus,''
who was an enlisted colored soldier. He called
him in one day to make fun of him, and said,
``Rastus, I hear that all the rest of your company
are killed, and why are you not killed?'' Rastus
winked at him and said, `` 'Cause when there is
any fightin' goin' on I stay back with the generals.''

I remember another illustration. I would leave
it out but for the fact that when you go to the
library to read this lecture, you will find this has
been printed in it for twenty-five years. I shut
my eyes--shut them close--and lo! I see the faces
of my youth. Yes, they sometimes say to me,
``Your hair is not white; you are working night
and day without seeming ever to stop; you can't
be old.'' But when I shut my eyes, like any other
man of my years, oh, then come trooping back
the faces of the loved and lost of long ago, and
I know, whatever men may say, it is evening-time.

I shut my eyes now and look back to my native
town in Massachusetts, and I see the cattle-show
ground on the mountain-top; I can see the horse-
sheds there. I can see the Congregational church;
see the town hall and mountaineers' cottages;
see a great assembly of people turning out, dressed
resplendently, and I can see flags flying and
handkerchiefs waving and hear bands playing. I can
see that company of soldiers that had re-enlisted
marching up on that cattle-show ground. I was
but a boy, but I was captain of that company
and puffed out with pride. A cambric needle
would have burst me all to pieces. Then I thought
it was the greatest event that ever came to man
on earth. If you have ever thought you would
like to be a king or queen, you go and be received
by the mayor.

The bands played, and all the people turned
out to receive us. I marched up that Common
so proud at the head of my troops, and we turned
down into the town hall. Then they seated my
soldiers down the center aisle and I sat down on
the front seat. A great assembly of people a
hundred or two--came in to fill the town hall,
so that they stood up all around. Then the town
officers came in and formed a half-circle. The
mayor of the town sat in the middle of the
platform. He was a man who had never held office
before; but he was a good man, and his friends
have told me that I might use this without giving
them offense. He was a good man, but he thought
an office made a man great. He came up and took
his seat, adjusted his powerful spectacles, and
looked around, when he suddenly spied me sitting
there on the front seat. He came right forward
on the platform and invited me up to sit with the
town officers. No town officer ever took any
notice of me before I went to war, except to advise
the teacher to thrash me, and now I was invited
up on the stand with the town officers. Oh my!
the town mayor was then the emperor, the king
of our day and our time. As I came up on the
platform they gave me a chair about this far, I
would say, from the front.

When I had got seated, the chairman of
the Selectmen arose and came forward to the
table, and we all supposed he would introduce
the Congregational minister, who was the only
orator in town, and that he would give the oration
to the returning soldiers. But, friends, you should
have seen the surprise which ran over the audience
when they discovered that the old fellow
was going to deliver that speech himself. He had
never made a speech in his life, but he fell into
the same error that hundreds of other men have
fallen into. It seems so strange that a man won't
learn he must speak his piece as a boy if he in-
tends to be an orator when he is grown, but he
seems to think all he has to do is to hold an office
to be a great orator.

So he came up to the front, and brought with
him a speech which he had learned by heart
walking up and down the pasture, where he had
frightened the cattle. He brought the manuscript
with him and spread it out on the table so as to
be sure he might see it. He adjusted his spectacles
and leaned over it for a moment and marched
back on that platform, and then came forward
like this--tramp, tramp, tramp. He must have
studied the subject a great deal, when you come
to think of it, because he assumed an ``elocutionary''
attitude. He rested heavily upon his
left heel, threw back his shoulders, slightly
advanced the right foot, opened the organs of speech,
and advanced his right foot at an angle of forty-
five. As he stood in that elocutionary attitude,
friends, this is just the way that speech went.
Some people say to me, ``Don't you exaggerate?''
That would be impossible. But I am here for
the lesson and not for the story, and this is the
way it went:

``Fellow-citizens--'' As soon as he heard his
voice his fingers began to go like that, his knees
began to shake, and then he trembled all over.
He choked and swallowed and came around to
the table to look at the manuscript. Then he
gathered himself up with clenched fists and came
back: ``Fellow-citizens, we are Fellow-citizens,
we are--we are--we are--we are--we are--we are
very happy--we are very happy--we are very
happy. We are very happy to welcome back to
their native town these soldiers who have fought
and bled--and come back again to their native
town. We are especially--we are especially--we
are especially. We are especially pleased to see
with us to-day this young hero'' (that meant
me)--``this young hero who in imagination''
(friends, remember he said that; if he had not
said ``in imagination'' I would not be egotistic
enough to refer to it at all)--``this young hero
who in imagination we have seen leading--we
have seen leading--leading. We have seen leading
his troops on to the deadly breach. We have
seen his shining--we have seen his shining--his
shining--his shining sword--flashing. Flashing in
the sunlight, as he shouted to his troops, `Come

Oh dear, dear, dear! how little that good man
knew about war. If he had known anything
about war at all he ought to have known what
any of my G. A. R. comrades here to-night will
tell you is true, that it is next to a crime for an
officer of infantry ever in time of danger to go
ahead of his men. ``I, with my shining sword
flashing in the sunlight, shouting to my troops,
`Come on'!'' I never did it. Do you suppose
I would get in front of my men to be shot in front
by the enemy and in the back by my own men?
That is no place for an officer. The place for the
officer in actual battle is behind the line. How
often, as a staff officer, I rode down the line, when
our men were suddenly called to the line of battle,
and the Rebel yells were coming out of the woods,
and shouted: ``Officers to the rear! Officers to
the rear!'' Then every officer gets behind the line
of private soldiers, and the higher the officer's
rank the farther behind he goes. Not because
he is any the less brave, but because the laws of
war require that. And yet he shouted, ``I, with
my shining sword--'' In that house there sat
the company of my soldiers who had carried that
boy across the Carolina rivers that he might not
wet his feet. Some of them had gone far out to
get a pig or a chicken. Some of them had gone
to death under the shell-swept pines in the
mountains of Tennessee, yet in the good man's speech
they were scarcely known. He did refer to them,
but only incidentally. The hero of the hour was
this boy. Did the nation owe him anything?
No, nothing then and nothing now. Why was he
the hero? Simply because that man fell into that
same human error--that this boy was great because
he was an officer and these were only private

Oh, I learned the lesson then that I will never
forget so long as the tongue of the bell of time
continues to swing for me. Greatness consists
not in the holding of some future office, but really
consists in doing great deeds with little means
and the accomplishment of vast purposes from
the private ranks of life. To be great at all one
must be great here, now, in Philadelphia. He
who can give to this city better streets and better
sidewalks, better schools and more colleges, more
happiness and more civilization, more of God, he
will be great anywhere. Let every man or woman
here, if you never hear me again, remember this,
that if you wish to be great at all, you must begin
where you are and what you are, in Philadelphia,
now. He that can give to his city any blessing, he
who can be a good citizen while he lives here, he
that can make better homes, he that can be a
blessing whether he works in the shop or sits
behind the counter or keeps house, whatever be his
life, he who would be great anywhere must first
be great in his own Philadelphia.



[2] _Dr, Conwell was living, and actively at work,
when these pages were written. It is, therefore,
a much truer picture of his personality than
anything written in the past tense_.

I SHALL write of a remarkable man, an interesting
man, a man of power, of initiative, of
will, of persistence; a man who plans vastly and
who realizes his plans; a man who not only does
things himself, but who, even more important than
that, is the constant inspiration of others. I shall
write of Russell H. Conwell.

As a farmer's boy he was the leader of the boys
of the rocky region that was his home; as a school-
teacher he won devotion; as a newspaper correspondent
he gained fame; as a soldier in the Civil
War he rose to important rank; as a lawyer he
developed a large practice; as an author he wrote
books that reached a mighty total of sales. He
left the law for the ministry and is the active head


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