Part 4 out of 6
is the only true road to riches which the owner can enjoy.
[Illustration: THE SAMARITAN HOSPITAL Showing the houses in which it
was originally located, and part of the new building]
"To help a man to help himself is the wisest effort of human love. To
have wealth and to have honestly earned it all, by labor, skill or
wisdom, is an object of ambition worthy of the highest and best.
Hence, to do the most good to the great classes, rich or poor, we must
labor industriously. The lover of his kind must furnish them with the
means of gaining knowledge while they work.
"Then there was a third class of mankind, starving, with their tables
breaking with luscious foods, cold in warehouses of ready-made
clothing of the most costly fabrics; seeing not in the moon-light, and
restless to distraction on beds of eiderdown. They do not know the
use or value of things. They are harassed with plenty they cannot
appropriate. They are doubly poor. They need education. The library
is a care, an expense and a disgrace to the owner who cannot read. To
give education to those in the possession of property which they might
use for the help of humanity and which they might enjoy, is as clear a
duty and charity as it is to help the beggar. And, indeed, indirectly
the education of the unwise wealthy to become useful may be the most
practical way of raising the poor. There is a need for every dollar of
the nation's property, and it should be invested by men whose minds
and hearts have been trained to see the human need and to love to
"The thought that in education of the best quality was to be found the
remedy for hunger, loneliness, crime and weakness was most clearly
emphasized to my mind by the coming of two young men who had felt the
need from the under side. They had received but little instruction;
they were over twenty years of age, and they wished to enter the
ministry. Was there any way open for a poor, industrious laborer to
get the highest education while he supported his mother, sister and
himself? I urged them to try it for the good of many who would
follow them if they made it a clear success. I was elated almost to
uncontrollable enthusiasm the night they came to my study to begin
their course. They brought five with them, and all proved themselves
noble men. One is not, for God took him. But the others are moulding
and inspiring their world."
Thus was conceived the idea of the institution that is now educating
annually three thousand men and women. The need for it has been
plainly proven. Rev. Forest Dager, at one time Dean of Temple College,
said in regard to the people who in later life crave opportunities for
"That the Temple College idea of educating working men and working
women, at an expense just sufficient to give them an appreciation of
the work of the Institution, covers a wide and long-neglected field
of educational effort, is at once apparent to a thoughtful mind.
Remembering that out of a total enrollment in the schools of our land
of all grades, public and private, of 14,512,778 pupils, 96-1/2 per
cent are reported as receiving elementary instruction only; that not
more than 35 in 1,000 attend school after they are fourteen years of
age; that 25 of these drop out during the next four years of their
life; that less than 10 in 1,000 pass on to enjoy the superior
instruction of a college or some equivalent grade of work, we begin
to see the unlimited field before an Institution like this. Thousands
upon thousands of those who have left school quite early in life,
either because they did not appreciate the advantages of a liberal
education, or because the stress of circumstances compelled them to
assist in the maintenance of home, awake a few years later to the
realization that a good education is more than one-half the struggle
for existence and position. Their time through the day is fully
occupied; their evenings are free. At once they turn to the evening
college, and grasping the opportunities for instruction, convert those
hours which to many are the pathway to vice and ruin, into stepping
stones to a higher and more useful career ... An illustration of the
wide-reaching influence of the College work is the significant fact
that during one year there were personally known to the president,
no less than ninety-three persons pursuing their studies in various
universities of our country, who received their first impulses toward
a higher education and a wider usefulness in Temple College."
In 1893, in an address on the Institutional church, delivered before
the Baptist Ministers' Conference in Philadelphia, Dr. Conwell said:
"At the present time there are in this city hundreds of thousands--to
speak conservatively, (I should say at least five hundred thousand
people) who have not the education they certainly wish they had
obtained before leaving school. There are at least one hundred
thousand people in this city willing to sacrifice their evenings and
some of their sleep to get an education, if they can get it without
the humiliation of being put into classes with boys and girls six
years old. They are in every city. There is a large class of young
people who have reached that age where they find they have made a
mistake in not getting a better education. If they could obtain one
now, in a proper way, they would. The university does not furnish such
an opportunity. The public school does not.
"The churches must institute schools for those whom the public does
not educate, and must educate them along the lines they cannot reach
in the public schools.
"We are not to withdraw our support from, nor to antagonize, the
public schools; they are the foundations of liberty in the nation. But
the public schools do not teach many things which young men and young
women need. I believe every church should institute classes for the
education of such people, and I believe the Institutional church will
require it. I believe every evening in the week should be given to
some particular kind of intellectual training along some educational
line; that this training should begin with the more evident needs of
the young people in each congregation, and then be adjusted as the
matter grows, to the wants of each."
So, because one poor boy struggled so bitterly for an education,
because a man, keen-eyed, saw others' needs, reading the signs by the
light of his own bitter experience, a great College for busy men and
women has grown, to give them freely the education which is very bread
and meat to their minds.
Most people use for their own benefit the lessons they have learned in
the hard school of experience. They have paid for them dearly. They
endeavor to get out of them what profit they can. Not so Dr. Conwell.
He uses his dearly bought experiences for the good of others, turning
the bitterness which he endured, into sweetness for their refreshment.
The Temple College was founded, as was stated in its first catalogue,
for the purpose "of opening to the burdened and circumscribed manual
laborer, the doors through which he may, if he will, reach the fields
of profitable and influential professional life.
"Of enabling the working man, whose labor has been largely with his
muscles, to double his skill through the helpful suggestions of a
"Of providing such instruction as shall be best adapted to the higher
education of those who are compelled to labor at their trades while
engaged in study, or who desire while studying to remain under the
influence of their home or church.
"Of awakening in the character of young laboring men and women a
strong and determined ambition to be useful to their fellowmen.
"Of cultivating such a taste for the higher and most useful branches
of learning as shall compel the students, after they have left the
college, to continue to pursue the best and most practical branches
of learning to the very highest walks of mental and scientific
A broad, humanitarian purpose it is, one that grew out of the heart of
a man who loved humanity, who believed in the practical application of
the teachings of Christ, who knew a cause would succeed if it filled a
Dr. Conwell's own experience, his observations of life had told
him that this great need existed, but it was brought home to him
practically in 1884, when these two young men of whom he speaks in
the letter quoted came to him and said they wanted to study for the
ministry but had no money. His mind leaped the years to those boyhood
days when he longed for an education but had no money. He fixed an
evening and told them he would teach them himself. When the night
came, the two had become seven. The third evening, the seven had grown
to forty. It was in the days when pastor and people were working hard
for their new church and his hands were full. But he did not shirk
this new task that came to him. Forty people eager to study, anxious
to broaden their mental vision, to make their lives more useful, could
not be disappointed, most assuredly not by a man who had known this
hunger of the mind. Teachers were secured who gave their services
free, the lower parts of the church where they were then worshipping
at Berks and Mervine streets were used as class rooms and the work
went forward with vigor.
The first catalogue was issued in 1887, and the institution chartered
in 1888, at which time there were five hundred and ninety students.
The College overflowed the basement of the church into two adjoining
houses. When The Temple was completed the College occupied the whole
building. When that was filled it moved into two large houses on Park
Avenue. Still growing, it rented two large halls.
The news that The Temple College had enlarged quarters in these halls
brought such a flood of students that almost from the start applicants
were turned away. Nothing was to be done but to build. It was a
serious problem. The church itself had but just been completed and a
heavy debt of $250,000 hung over it. To add the cost of a college to
this burden of debt required faith of the highest order, work of the
hardest. But God had shown them their work and they could not shirk it.
"For seven years I have felt a firm conviction that the great work,
the special duty of our church, is to establish the College," said Dr.
Conwell, in speaking of the matter to his congregation. "We are now
face to face with it. How distinctly we have been led of God to this
point! Never before in the history of this nation have a people had
committed to them a movement more important for the welfare of mankind
than that which is now committed to your trust in connection with the
permanent establishment of The Temple College. We step now over the
brink. Our feet are already in the water, and God says, 'Go on, it
shall be dryshod for you yet'; and I say that the success of this
institution means others like it in every town of five thousand
inhabitants in the United States."
"One thing we have demonstrated--those who work for a living have time
to study. Some splendid specimens of scholarship have been
developed in our work. And there are others, splendid geniuses, yet
undiscovered, but The Temple College will bring them to the light, and
the world will be the richer for it. By the use of spare hours--hours
usually running to waste--great things can be done. The commendation
of these successful students will do more for the college than any
number of rich friends can do. It will make friends; it will bring
money; it will win honor; it will secure success."
An investment fund was created and once more the people made their
offerings. The same self-sacrificing spirit was evident as in the
building of the church. One boy brought to the pastor fifty cents, the
first money he had ever earned; a woman sent to the treasury a gold
ring, the only gift she could make, which bore interest in the
suggestion that all who chose might offer similar gifts as did the
women in the day of Moses. A business man hearing of this said, "If a
day is appointed, I will on that day give to the College all the gold
and silver that comes into my store for purchases." Every organization
of Grace Church contributed time, work, money, and prayer to the
building of the College. Small wonder then that obligations were met
and payments made promptly.
One of the most successful methods by which money was raised for
the College was the "Penny Talent" effort in 1893. Burdette, in his
"Temple and Templars" has made a most painstaking record of the
various ways in which the talent was used. He says:
"Each worker was given a penny, no more. Four thousand were given out
at one service. One man put his penny in a neat box, took it to his
office, and exhibited his 'talent' at a nickel a 'peep.' He gained
$1.70 the first day of his 'show,' A woman bought a 'job lot' of
molasses with her penny, made it into molasses candy, sold it in
square inch cakes, after telling the customer her story; payments were
generous and she netted $1.80. Then the man who sold her the molasses
returned her penny. Another sister established a 'cooky' business,
which grew rapidly. One boy kept his penny and went to work, earned 50
cents, the first money he ever earned in his life. It was a big penny,
but he was bubbling over with enthusiasm and in it all went; he
brought it straight to his pastor. One worker collected autographs
and sold them. A boy sold toothpicks. One young man made silver
buttonhooks and a young lady sold them. A woman traded her penny up
to a dollar, made aprons from that time on until she earned $10. One
class of seven girls in the Sunday-school united its capital and gave
a supper at the Park and netted $50. The Young Men's Bible Class
constructed a model of the College building, which they exhibited. The
children gave a supper in the Lower Temple, which added $100 to the
College fund. There came into the treasury $1.00 'saved on carfares';
'whitewashing a cellar' brought $3. Thrice, somebody walked from
Germantown to The Temple and back, saving 75 cents; a wife saved $20
from household allowances. A little girl of seven years went into a
lively brokerage business with her penny, and took several 'flyers'
that netted her handsome margins. Here is her report--
"'Sold the "talent penny" to Aunt Libby for seven cents; sold the
seven cents to Mamma for 25 cents; sold the 25 cents to Papa for 50
cents. Aunt Caddie, 10 cents; Uncle Gilman, 5 cents; Cousin Walter, 4
cents; cash, 25 cents,--$1.04 and the penny talent returned.'
"'Pinching the market-basket' sent in $2.50; 'all the pennies and
nickels received in four months, $12.70'; 'walking instead of riding,
$6.50'; 'singing and making plaster plaques, $7.' A dentist bought of
a fellow dentist one cent's worth of cement filling-material; this he
used, giving his labor, and earned 50 cents; with this he bought 50
cents' worth of better filling, part of which he used, again giving
his labor, and the College gained $3.00. A boy sold his penny to a
physician for a dollar. The physician sold the 'talent penny' for 10
cents, which he exchanged at the Mint for bright new pennies. These he
took to business friends and got a dollar apiece for them; added $5.00
of his own and turned in $15.00. Donations of one cent each were
received through Mr. William P. Harding, from Governor Tillman of
South Carolina, Governor McKinley of Ohio, Governor Russell of
Massachusetts. From Governor Fuller of Vermont--a rare old copper
cent, 1782, coined by Vermont before she was admitted to the Union;
the governors' letters were sold to the highest bidders. Everybody who
worked, everybody who traded with the penny, did something, and every
penny was blessed, so lovingly and so zealously was the trading done.
It was the Master's talent which they were working with. All the
little things that went into the treasury; lead pencils, tacks, $3.00
in one case and $5.00 in another; 'beefs liver, $14.00'--think of
that! How tired the boarders must have grown of liver away out on
Broad Street--stick pins, hairpins, and the common kind that you bend
and lose; candy, pretzels, and cookies; 'old tin cans,' wooden spoons,
pies; one man sent $50.00 as a gift because he said 'his penny had
brought him luck'; another found 16 pennies, which good fortune he
ascribed to the penny in his pocket.
"So in October the workers who had received their pennies in April
came together to show what they had done. Four thousand pennies had
been given out; $6,000 came directly from the returns, and indirectly
about $8,000 more.
"The 'Feast of Tithes,' held in December of the same year, was a great
fair, extending through seven week days. The displays of goods and the
refreshment booths were in the Lower Temple, while fine concerts and
other entertainments were given in the auditorium. The Feast of Tithes
netted $5,500 for the College fund."
Thus the work progressed. No one could give large amounts, but many
gave a little, and stone by stone the building grew. In August, 1893,
the corner stone of the College building was laid. Taking up the
silver trowel which had been used in laying the corner stone of The
Temple, in 1889, Dr. Conwell said:
"Friends, to-day we do something more than simply lay the corner stone
of a college building. We do an act here very simply that shows to the
world, and will go on testifying after we have gone to our long rest,
that the church of Jesus Christ is not only an institution of theory,
but an institution of practice. It will stand here upon this great
and broad street and say through the coming years to all passersby,
'Christianity means something for the good of humanity; Christianity
means not only a belief in things that are good and pure and
righteous, but it also means an activity that shall bless those who
need the assistance of others.' It shall say to the rich man, 'Give
thou of thy surplus to those who have not.' It shall say to the poor
man, 'Make thou the most of thy opportunities and thou shalt be the
equal of the rich.'
"Now, in the name of the people who have given for this enterprise,
in the name of the many Christians who have prayed, and who are now
sending up their prayers to heaven, I lay this corner stone."
The work went on. In May, 1894, a great congregation thronged The
Temple to attend the dedication services of "Temple College," for it
was in its new home; a handsome building, presenting with The Temple a
beautiful stone front of two hundred feet on the broad avenue which it
faces. Robert E. Pattison, governor of Pennsylvania, presided, saying,
in his introductory remarks, "Around this noble city many institutions
have arisen in the cause of education, but I doubt whether any of them
will possess a greater influence for good than Temple College." Bishop
Foss, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, offered prayer. The orator
was Honorable Charles Emory Smith, of Philadelphia, ex-minister
to Russia. Mr. James Johnson, the builder, gave the keys to the
architect, Mr. Thomas P. Lonsdale, who delivered them to the pastor of
Grace Church and president of Temple College, remarking that "it was
well these keys should be in the hands of those who already held the
keys to the inner temple of knowledge."
President Conwell, receiving the keys, said that, "by united effort,
penny by penny, and dollar by dollar, every note had been paid, every
financial obligation promptly met. It is a demonstration of what
people can do when thoroughly in earnest in a great enterprise."
Academies were also started in distant parts of the city for the
benefit of those who could not reach the college in time for classes.
Unfortunately these academies were compelled to close on account of
lack of funds. Many pitiful letters were received at the college
from those who were thus shut out of educational advantages. One in
particular, poorly spelled but breathing its bitter disappointment,
said that the writer (a woman) was just beginning to hope she would
get her head above water some day. But that now she must sink again. A
little light had begun to glimmer for her through the blackness, but
that light had been taken away. She was going down again into the
depth of hopeless ignorance with no one to lend a helping hand--the
tragedy of which Carlyle wrote when he penned "That there should
be one man die ignorant who is capable of knowledge, this I call a
The College at first was entirely free, but as the attendance
increased, it was found necessary to charge a nominal tuition fee in
order to keep out those who had no serious desire to study, but came
irregularly "just for the fun of the thing." When it was decided to
charge five dollars a year for the privilege of attending the evening
classes, the announcement was received with the unanimous approbation
of the students who honestly wished to study, and who more than any
others were hindered by the aimless element.
Not only did the poor and those who were employed during the day come,
but before long the sons and daughters of the well-to-do were knocking
at the doors, not for admission to the evening classes but for day
study. So the day department was opened. Not only has it proved
most successful in its work, but it has helped the College to meet
The curriculum of the College is broad. A child just able to walk can
enter the kindergarten class in the day department and receive his
entire schooling under the one roof, graduating with a college degree,
taking a special university course, or fitting himself for business.
Four university courses are given--theology, law, medicine, pharmacy.
The Medical and Theological Departments take students to their
graduation and upon presentation of their diploma before the State
Board they are admitted to the State Examination. The Theological
Course, of course, graduates a man the same as any other theological
Post-graduate courses are also given.
The college courses include--arts, science, elocution and oratory,
business, music, civil engineering, physical education. The graduates
of the college course are admitted to the post-graduate courses of
Pennsylvania, Yale, Princeton and Harvard on their diplomas. Students
pass from any year's work of the college course to the corresponding
course of other Institutions.
The preparatory courses are college preparatory, medical preparatory,
scientific preparatory, law preparatory, an English course and a
business preparatory course. Thus, if one is not ready to enter one of
the higher courses, he can prepare here by night study for them.
The Business Course includes a commercial course, shorthand course,
secretarial course, conveyancing course, telegraphy course,
advertisement writing and proofreading.
There are normal courses for kindergarteners and elementary teachers,
and in household science, physical training, music, millinery,
dressmaking, elocution and oratory.
Special courses are given in civil engineering, chemistry, elocution
and oratory, painting and drawing, sign writing, mechanical and
architectural drawing, music, physical training, dressmaking,
millinery, cooking, embroidery, and nursing, the last being given at
the Samaritan Hospital.
All of these courses, excepting the Normal Kindergarten, can be
studied day or evening, as best suits the student.
The kindergarten and model schools cover the work of the public
schools from the kindergarten to the highest grammar grades, fitting
the student to enter the first year of the preparatory department.
These classes are held in the daytime only.
The power to confer degrees was granted in 1891. The teaching force
has been greatly enlarged until at present there are one hundred
and thirty-five teachers and an average of more than three thousand
regular students yearly.
The number of students instructed at Temple College in proportion to
money expended and buildings used is altogether out of proportion
to any other college in America. Some idea of the breadth of study
presented at Temple College may be had from a comparison with
Harvard. Harvard has more than five thousand students, four hundred
instructors, and presents five hundred courses of study. Its growth
since 1860 has been wonderful. In 1860, while one man might not have
been able in four years to master all the subjects offered, he could
have done so in six. It was estimated in 1899 that the courses
of study offered were so varied that sixty years would have been
required. It would take one student ninety-six years to take all the
courses presented by the Temple College.
From the time of the opening of Temple College up to the closing
exercises of 1905, its students have numbered 55,656. If an answer is
desired to the question, "Is such an institution needed," that number
answers is most emphatically. That more than fifty thousand people,
the majority of them wording men and women, will give their nights
after a day of toil, to study, proves that the institution that gives
them the opportunity to study is sorely needed.
The life story of men and women who have studied here and gone on to
lives of usefulness would make interesting reading. One young girl who
lived in the mill district of Kensington was earning $2.50 a week,
folding circulars, addressing envelopes and doing such work. Her
parents were poor. She had the most meagre education, and the outlook
for her to earn more was dark. Some one advised her to go to Temple
College at night and study bookkeeping. A few years after, her
well-wisher saw her one evening at the college, bright, happy, a
different girl in both dress and deportment She had a position as
bookkeeper at $10 a week and was going on now and taking other
That is the ordinary story of the work Temple College does, multiplied
in thousands of lives. Others are not so ordinary. One of the early
students was a poor man earning $6.00 a week. To-day he is earning
$6,000 a year in a government position at Washington, his rise in
life due entirely to the opportunities of study offered him at Temple
College. A lady who had been brought up in refined and cultured
society was compelled to support herself, her husband and child
through his complete physical breakdown. She took the normal course
in dressmaking and millinery, and has this year been appointed the
Director of the Domestic Science work in a large institution at a very
good salary, being able to keep herself and family in comfort. One of
the present college students was a weaver without any education at
all, getting not only his elementary education and his preparatory
education here, but will next year graduate from the college
department. He has been entirely self-supporting in the meantime, and
will make a fine teacher of mathematics. He has been teaching extra
classes in the evening department of the College for several years.
One of the students who entered the classes in 1886 was a poor boy
of thirteen. For nineteen long years he has studied persistently at
night, passing from one grade to another until this summer (1905) his
long schooling was crowned with success and he was admitted to the
bar. All these weary years he has worked hard during the day, for
there were others depending upon him, and at night despite his
physical weariness, has faithfully pursued his studies. He deserves
his success and the greater success that will come to him, for such a
man in those long years has stored away experiences that will make him
Another student in the early days of the college was a poor boy who
had no education whatever, having been compelled to help earn the
family living as soon as he was able, his father being a drunkard. For
fifteen years he studied, passing from one grade to another until in
1899, he had the great joy of being ordained to the ministry, six of
his ministerial brethren gathering around him in the great Temple and
laying on his head the hands of ordination, feeling they were setting
apart to the struggles and hardships of the Gospel ministry one who
had shown himself worthy of his exalted calling.
One of the official stenographers connected with the Panama Canal
Commission was a breaker boy who came to Philadelphia from the mining
district poor and ignorant, and studied in Temple College at night,
working during the day to earn his living.
Such records would fill a book. They prove better even than numbers
the worth of such an institution. If only one such man or woman is
lifted to a happier, more useful life, the work is worth while.
Such an institution can do much for the purification of politics.
Before the students are ever held high ideals of right living, of
honesty, of purity. All the associations of the College are conducive
to clean character and high ideals. As the largest number of the
students are men and women from active business life, they are keenly
alive to the questions of the day. They know the responsibility for
honest government rests with each voter, that to have clean politics
every man and woman must individually do his share to uphold high
standards in political and social life, that only men whose characters
are above reproach should be elected to office. That the President of
their college shares these views and knows also what a power lies in
their hands, is shown by the following letter:
"Fraternal Greetings: The near approach of an important election leads
me to suggest to you the following:
"First. There being now in this city over seven thousand voters who
have been students in the Temple College, you have by your votes
and your influence, either by combination or as individuals, a
considerable political power. You should use it for the good of your
city, state, and nation.
"Second. In city affairs I urge you to think first of the poor. The
rich do not need your care. Vote only for such city candidates as will
most speedily secure for the more needy classes pure water, clean
streets, cheaper homes, cheaper and more useful education, healthier
environment, cheap and quick transportation, the development of the
labor-giving improvements, and the increase of sea-going and inland
commerce. Select large-hearted, cool-headed men for city officers,
regardless of national parties.
"Third. Let no man or party purchase your patriotic birthright for a
fifty-cent tax bill or any other sum.
"Fourth. In selecting your candidates for state offices remember the
needs of the people. Favor the granting to the submerged poor a more
favorable opportunity to help themselves. Move in the most reasonable
and direct way toward the ultimate abolition of the sale of
intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and for the increase of hospital
and college privileges for the afflicted and the ignorant.
"Fifth. In national politics, remember that both parties have a
measure of truth in their principles, and the need of the time is
noble, conscientious lovers of humanity, who will not be led by party
enthusiasm into any wild schemes in either direction which would
result in the destruction of business and the degradation of national
honor. Think independently, vote considerately, stand unflinchingly
against any measure that is wrong, and vigorously in favor of every
movement that is right. This is an opportunity to do a great, good
deed. Quit you like men. With endearing affection,
"RUSSELL H. CONWELL."
Even now the press of students is so great the trustees are planning
larger things. The "Philadelphia Press,' speaking of the new work to
be undertaken, said:
"A city university, with a capacity of seven thousand students, more
than are attending any other one seat of learning in the United
States, is to be built in Philadelphia. It will be the university of
the Temple College and will stand on the site of the old Broad Street
Baptist Church at the southeast corner of Broad and Brown Streets,
and the lot adjoining the church property on the south side on Broad
"The new structure will cost $225,000, while the ground on which it
will be built is worth $165,000, making the total value of the new
"Rev. Russell H. Conwell, D.D., pastor of the Grace Baptist Church,
at Broad and Berks Streets, and President of Temple College, said
yesterday that the new university will be completed and ready for
occupancy by September, 1906. In the twenty years of its existence
Temple College has grown as have few educational institutions in
America, until now it has more than three thousand students enrolled
"With the erection of the university building the institution will
have facilities for educating four thousand more students, or a total
of seven thousand.
"Some idea of how the other great universities of the country compare
with regard to the number of students attending them with this new
university of Philadelphia is shown by the following table:
Name. Number of Students,
Temple University 7,000
"The Temple University building will be eight stories high, at
least that is the plan the trustees have in mind at present, but the
structure will be so built that a height of two stories may be added
at any time. It will have a frontage of 129 feet on Broad Street and
140 feet on Brown Street. The corner property was deeded as a gift to
Temple College by the Broad and Brown Streets Church and the College
then purchased the adjoining property on Broad Street. In appreciation
of the gift the College has offered the use of the university chapel,
which will be built in the building, to the Broad and Brown Streets
Church congregation for a place of worship.
"The university will be built of stone, and while not an elaborate
structure, it will be substantial and suitable in every respect and
imposing in its very simplicity.
"In addition to the university offices there will be a large
gymnasium, a free dispensary, departments of medicine, theology, law,
engineering, sciences, and, in fact, all the branches of learning that
are taught in any of the great universities. There will be a library
and lecture room for every department, pathological and chemical
laboratories and a sufficient number of classrooms to preclude
crowding of students for the next ten or fifteen years.
"There are now one hundred and thirty-five instructors in Temple
College, but when the university is opened this number will be
increased to three hundred.
"The present college building, which adjoins the Baptist Temple, will
continue to be used, but only for the normal classes and lower grade
of work. The building will be remodeled. The dwelling adjoining the
college which has been occupied as the theological department will be
vacated when the university is completed.
"Dr. Conwell, the father of Temple College and who in years to come
will be spoken of as the father of Temple University, said yesterday:
"'It will be a university for busy people, the same as the college has
been a college for busy people. Our institution reaches and benefits
a class--in some respects the greatest class--of persons who want
to study and enlarge their education, but cannot attend the other
universities and colleges for financial reasons and because of their
"'There's many a man and woman, young and middle-aged, who is not
satisfied with himself--he wants to go on farther, he wants to learn
more. But his daily work won't allow him to complete his education
because of the inconvenient hours of the classes and lectures in
other colleges. And he comes to Temple, as there classes are held
practically all day and for several hours at night. The terms of the
course at Temple College are reasonable, and thus many young men or
women may prepare themselves for higher and more remunerative work,
whereas they would not feel that they could afford to pay the tuition
fee at some other institution. The Temple University will be similar
to the London University, a city university for busy persons.'"
Thus Temple College grows because it is needed. And such an
institution is needed in other cities as well as in Philadelphia. This
is but the pioneer. It can have sister institutions wherever people
want to study and Christian hearts want to help.
It grows also because in the heart of one man, its founder, is the
bitter knowledge of how sorely such an institution is needed by those
who want to study, and who himself works hand, heart and soul so that
it shall never fail those who need it.
Says James M. Beck, the noted lawyer: "There have been very wealthy
men who, out of the abundance of their resources, have founded
colleges, but I can hardly recall a case where a man, without abundant
means, by mere force of character and intellectual energy, has both
created and maintained an institution of this size and character,'"
Far back in the dim light of the centuries, Confucius wrote, "Give
instruction unto those who cannot obtain it for themselves." This is
the great and useful work the Temple College is doing and doing it
nobly, a work that will count for untold good on future generations.
THE SAMARITAN HOSPITAL
Beginning in Two Rooms. Growth. Number of Beds. Management. Temple
Services Heard by Telephone. Faith and Nationality of Those Cared For.
His pastoral work among his church members and others of the
neighborhood brought to Dr. Conwell's mind constantly the needs of the
sick poor. Scarcely a week passed that some one did not come to him
for help for a loved one suffering from disease, but without means to
secure proper medical aid. Sick and poor--that is a condition which
sums up the height of human physical suffering--the body racked with
pain, burning with fever, yet day and night battling on in misery,
without medical aid, without nursing, without any of the comforts that
relieve pain. Nor is the sick one the only sufferer. Those who love
him endure the keenest mental anguish as they stand by helpless,
unable to raise a finger for his relief because they are poor. Through
the deep waters of both these experiences Dr. Conwell had himself
passed. He knew the anguish of heart of seeing loved ones suffer, of
being unable to secure for them the nourishing food, the care needed
to make them well. He knew the wretchedness of being sick and poor and
of not knowing which way to turn for help, while quivering flesh and
nerves called in torture for relief. His heart went out in burning
sympathy to all such cases that came to his knowledge, and generously
he helped. But they were far too many for one man, big-hearted and
open-handed as he might be. More and more the need of a hospital in
that part of the city was impressed upon him. Accidents among his
membership were numerous, yet the nearest hospital was blocks and
blocks away, a distance which meant precious minutes when with every
moment life was ebbing.
He laid the matter before his church people. Down through the
centuries came ringing in their ears that command, "Heal the sick."
They knew it was Christ's work--"Unto Him were brought all sick people
that were taken with divers diseases and he healed them."
So they decided to rent two rooms where the sick could be cared for,
and later built a hospital for the poor, where without money and
without price, the best medical aid, the tenderest nursing were at the
command of those in need.
"The Hospital was founded," says Dr. Conwell, "and this property
purchased in the hope that it would do Christ's work. Not simply to
heal for the sake of professional experience, not simply to cure
disease and repair broken bones, but to so do those charitable acts as
to enforce the truth Jesus taught, that God 'would not that any should
perish, but that all should come unto Him and live.' Soul and body,
both need the healing balm of Christianity. The Hospital modestly
and touchingly furnishes it to all classes, creeds, and ages whose
sufferings cause them to cry out, 'Have mercy on me!'"
So far as buildings were concerned, it began in a small way, though
its spirit of kindness and Christian charity was large. After one year
in rented rooms, a house was purchased on North Broad Street, near
Ontario Street, and fitted up as a hospital with wards, operating room
and dispensary. It was situated just where a network of railroads
focuses and near a number of large factories and machine shops, where
accidents were occurring constantly. Almost immediately its wards were
filled. The name "Samaritan Hospital" was given as typical of its work
and spirit, its projectors and supporters laying down their money and
agreeing to pay whatever might be needed, as well as giving of their
personal care and attention to the sufferer. But though Dr. Conwell's
heart is big, his head is practical. He does not believe in
"Charity is composed of sympathy and self-sacrifice. There is no
charity without a union of these two," he said, in an address years
ago at Music Hall, Boston. "To make a gift become a charity the
recipient must feel that it is given out of sympathy; that the
donor has made a sacrifice to give it; that it is intended only as
assistance and not as a permanent support, unless the needy one he
helpless; and that it is not given as his right. To accomplish this
end desired by charitable hearts demands an acquaintance with the
persons to be assisted or a study of them, and a great degree of
caution and patience. It is not only unnecessary, but a positive wrong
to give to itinerant beggars. There is no such thing as charity about
a so-called state charity. It is statesmanship to rid the community of
nuisances, to feed the poor and prevent stealing and robbery, but it
should not be called 'a charity.' The paupers take their provision as
their right, feel no gratitude, acquire no ambition, no industry, no
culture. The state almshouse educates the brain and chills the heart.
It fastens a stigma on the child to hinder and curse it for life. Any
institution supported otherwise than by voluntary contribution, or
in the hands of paid public officials, can never have the spirit of
charity nor be correctly called a charity. Boston's public charitable
institutions, so called, are not charities at all; the motive is not
sympathy, but necessity. The money for the support of paupers is not
paid with benevolent intentions by the tax-payers, nor do the inmates
of almshouses so receive it. I have been engaged in gathering
statistics, and have found sixty-three per cent of all persons who
applied for assistance at the various institutions were impostors,
while many were swindlers and professional burglars."
The sick poor are never turned away from Samaritan Hospital, but those
who are able to pay are requested to do so. Dr. Conwell believes
it would be a wrong to treat such people free, an injustice to
physicians, as well as an encouragement of a wrong spirit in
themselves. The hospital has a number of private rooms in which
patients are received for pay. Many have been furnished by members of
Grace Baptist Church in memory of some loved one "gone before," or by
Sunday School classes or church organizations.
It may have been the fact that it started in an ordinary house that
gave the Hospital its cheery, homelike atmosphere. It may have been
the spirit of the workers. But its homelike air is noticeable. While
rules are strictly enforced, as they must be, there is a feeling of
personal interest in each patient that makes the sick feel that she is
something more than a "case" or a "number."
"The lovely Christ spirit," says Dr. Conwell, "which inclines men and
women to care for their unfortunate fellowmen, is especially beautiful
when in addition to the healing of wounds and disease, the afflicted
sufferers are welcomed to such a home as the Samaritan Hospital has
become. All such kind deeds become doubly sweet when done in the name
of Christ, because they carry with them sympathy for those in pain,
love for the loveless, a home for the homeless, friendship for the
friendless, and a divine solace, which are often more than surgical
skill or medical science. Such an institution the Samaritan Hospital
is ever to be. It began in weakness and inexperience, but with
Christian devotion and affection, its founders and supporters have
conquered innumerable difficulties, and can now say unreservedly that
they have a hospital with all the conveniences and all the influences
of a Christian home."
The hospital was opened February 1, 1892. It did not take long to
prove the need of the work. Before the year was out it was so crowded
that an addition had to be built, and now magnificent buildings stand
adjoining the original "house" as a monument to the untiring work
and zeal of Grace Church members and their friends. It is now an
The hospital is fitted with all modern appliances for caring for the
sick. It has a hundred and seventy beds, and a large and competent
staff of physicians numbering many of the best in the city. There is
also a training school for nurses, the original hospital building
being now fitted up and furnished as a nurses' home. More than five
thousand different cases are ministered to during the year in the beds
and dispensary. The annual expense of running the hospital is more
than forty thousand dollars, the value of the property more than three
hundred thousand dollars.
In addition to the customary weekly visiting days, visitors are
allowed on one evening during the week and on Sunday afternoons. These
rather unusual visiting hours are an innovation of Dr. Conwell's for
the benefit of busy workers who cannot visit their sick friends or
relatives on week days.
A novel feature of the hospital and one which brings great pleasure to
the patients, is the telephone service connecting it with The Temple,
whereby those who are able, can hear the preaching of the pastor
Sunday morning and evening at the big church farther down Broad
One of the most efficient aids in the hospital's growth has been
the Board of Lady Managers. When the hospital was opened in 1892, a
committee of six ladies was appointed by Mr. Conwell to take charge of
the housekeeping affairs, and from this committee has grown this Board
which has done so much to aid the hospital, both by raising money and
looking after its household affairs.
This committee had entire charge of the house department, visiting it
weekly, inspecting the house, and making suggestions to the trustees
for improving the work in that department.
The Board is divided into Finance, Visiting, Flower, Linen, Ward
Supplies, House Supplies and Sewing Committee. The chairman of these
committees, together with the five officers, constitute the Executive
Committee, and meet with the trustees at their regular monthly
In addition to paying the housekeeping bills, the board has come many
times to the assistance of the trustees, and by giving entertainments,
holding sales, teas, receptions, has raised large sums of money for
special purposes. In connection with this Board is the Samaritan Aid
Society which annually contributes about three hundred new articles of
clothing and bedding.
The Board of Trustees is composed of able, experienced business men
who apply their knowledge of business affairs to the conduct of the
hospital. It means a sacrifice of much time on their part, but it is
The hospital is non-sectarian. Suffering and need are the only
requisites for admission. During the past year among those who were
cared for were:
United Brethren 3
Not recorded 60
[Illustration: ATTENDING SERVICE IN BED]
The nativity of the patients showed that nearly all countries were
represented--Russia, Poland, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Scotland,
England, Germany, Ireland, China, Hungary, Australia, Switzerland,
Jerusalem, Roumania and Armenia.
Never was the worth of its work better shown than in the terrible Ball
Park accident, which happened in Philadelphia in 1904, when by the
collapsing of the grandstand hundreds were killed and injured. Without
a moment's notice, more than a hundred patients were rushed to the
hospital and cared for. When the wards were filled, cots were placed
in the halls, in the offices, wherever there was room, and the injured
Thus from small beginnings and a great need it has steadily grown,
supported by contributions and upheld by the faithful work of those
who labor for the love of the Master. Sacrifices of time and money
have been freely made for it, for the people who have worked to
support it are few of them rich. It still needs help, for "the poor
ye have always with you." And while there are poor people and sick
people, Samaritan Hospital will always need the help of the more
fortunate to aid it in its great work of relieving pain.
THE MANNER OF THE MAN
Boundless Love for Men. Utter Humility. His Simplicity and
Informality. Keen Sense of Humor. His Unconventional Methods of Work.
Power as a Leader. His Tremendous Faith.
What of the personality of the man back of all this ceaseless work,
these stupendous undertakings? Much of it can be read in the work
itself. But not all. One must know Dr. Conwell personally to realize
that deep, abiding love of humanity which is the wellspring of his
life and which shows itself in constant and innumerable acts of
thoughtfulness and kindness for the happiness of others. He cannot see
a drunkard on the street without his heart going out in a desire to
help him to a better life. He cannot see a child in tears, but that
he must know the trouble and mend it. From boyhood, it was one of the
strongest traits of his character, and when it clasped hands with a
man's love of Christ, it became the ruling passion of his life. The
woes of humanity touch him deeply. He freely gives himself, his time,
his money to lighten them. But he knows that to do his best, is but
comparatively little. To him it is a pitiful thing that so much of the
world's, misery cannot be relieved because of the lack of money; that
people must starve, must suffer pain and disease, must go without the
education that makes life brighter and happier, simply for the want of
this one thing of so little worth compared with the great things of
life it has the power to withhold or grant.
One must also be intimately associated with Dr. Conwell to realize the
deep humility that rules his heart, that makes him firmly believe any
man who will trust in God and go ahead in faith can accomplish all
that he himself has done, and more.
"You do not know what a struggle my life is," he said once to a
friend. "Only God and my own heart know how far short I come of what I
ought to be, and how often I mar the use He would make of me even when
I would serve Him."
And again, at the Golden Jubilee services, in honor of his fiftieth
birthday, he said publicly what he many times says in private:
"I look back on the errors of by-gone years; my blunders; my pride;
my self-sufficiency; my willfulness--if God would take me up in my
unworthiness and imperfection and lift me to such a place of happiness
and love as this--I say, He can do it for any man.
"When I see the blunders I unintentionally make in history, in
mathematics, in names, in rhetoric, in exegesis, and yet see that God
uses even blunders to save men--I sink back into the humblest place
before Him and say, 'If God can use such preaching as that, blunders
and mistakes like these; if He can take them and use them for His
glory, He can use anybody and anything.' I let out the secret of my
life when I tell you this: If I have succeeded at all, it has been
with the conscious sense that as God has used even me, so can He use
others. God saved me and He can save them. My very faults show me,
they teach me, that any person can be helped and saved."
Speaking of his sermons, which are taken down by a stenographer and
typewritten for publication in the "Temple Review," he said, with
the utmost dejection, "Positively they make me sick. To think that I
should stand up and undertake to preach when I can do no better than
He has ever that sense of defeat from which all great minds suffer
whose high ideals ever elude them.
In manner and speech, he is simple and unaffected, and approachable at
all times. When not away from the city lecturing, he spends a certain
part of the day in his study at the church, where any one can see
him on any matter which he may wish to bring to his attention. The
ante-room is thronged at the hour when it is known that he will be
there. People waylay him in the church corridors, and on the streets,
so well known is his kindly heart, his attentive ear, his generous
Not only do these visitors invade the church, but they come to his
home. Early in the morning they are there. They await him when he
returns late at night. As an instance of their number, one Saturday
afternoon late in June he had one hour free which he hoped to take for
rest and the preparation of the next morning's sermon. During that one
hour he had six callers, each staying until the next arrived. One of
these was a young man whom Dr. Conwell had never seen, a boy no more
than seventeen or eighteen. He had a few weeks before made a runaway
marriage with a girl still younger than himself. Her parents had
indignantly taken the bride home, and the young husband came to Dr.
Conwell to ask him to seek out these parents and persuade them to let
the child wife return to her husband.
He has a knack of putting everybody at ease in his presence, which
perhaps accounts for the freedom with which people, even utter
strangers, come to him and pour into his ear their life secrets. This
earnest desire to help people, to make them happier and better,
shines from his life with such force that one feels it immediately on
entering his presence and opens one's heart to him. He helps, advises,
and, because he is so preeminently a man of faith and believes so
firmly that all he has done has been accomplished by faith and
perseverance, he inspires others with like confidence in themselves.
They go away encouraged, hopeful, strengthened for the work that lies
ahead of them, or for the trouble they must surmount It is little
wonder the people throng to him for help.
His simple, informal view of life is shown in other things. During a
summer vacation in the Berkshires he was scheduled to lecture in one
of the home towns. His old friends and neighbors dearly love to hear
him, and nearly always secure a lecture from him while he is supposed
to be resting. Entirely forgetting the lecture, he planned a fishing
trip that day. Just as the fishing party was ready to start, some one
remembered the lecture. There would not be time to go fishing,
return, dress and go to the lecture town. But Dr. Conwell is a great
fisherman, and he disliked most thoroughly to give up that fishing
trip. He thought about it a few minutes, and then in his informal,
unconventional fashion, decided he would both fish and lecture. He
packed his lecturing apparel in a suit case, tied a tub for the
accommodation of the fish on the back of the wagon and started. All
day he fished, happy and contented. When lecturing time drew near,
rattling and splashing, with a tubful of fish, round-eyed and
astonished at the violent upheavals of their usual calm abiding place,
he drove up to the lecture hall, changed his clothes, and at the
appointed time appeared on the platform and delivered one of the best
lectures that section ever heard.
Some people call his methods sensational. They are not sensational
in the sense of merely making a noise for the purpose of attracting
attention. They are unconventional. Dr. Conwell pays no attention to
forms if the life has gone out of them, to traditions, if their spirit
is dead, their days of usefulness past. He lives in the present He
sees present needs and adopts methods to fit them. No doubt, many said
it was sensational to tear down that old church at Lexington himself.
But there was no money and the church must come down. The only way to
get it down and a new one built, was to go to work. And he went to
work in straightforward, practical fashion. It takes courage and
strength of mind thus to tear down conventions and forms. But he does
not hesitate if he sees they are blocking the road of progress. This
disregard of customs, this practical common-sense way of attacking
evil or supplying needs is seen in all his church work. And because it
is original and unusual, it brings upon him often, a storm of adverse
criticism. But he never halts for that. He is willing to suffer
misrepresentation, even calumny, if the cause for which he is working,
progresses. He cares nothing for himself. He thinks only of the Master
and the work He has committed to his hands.
Though the great masses in their ignorance and poverty appeal to him
powerfully and incite him to tremendous undertakings for their relief,
he does not, because his hands are so full of great things, turn
aside from opportunities to help the individual. Indeed, it is this
readiness to answer a personal call for help that has endeared him
so to thousands and thousands. No matter what may he the labor or
inconvenience to himself, he responds instantly when the appeal comes.
Two men, now members of the church, often tell the incident that led
to their conversion. One evening they fell to discussing Dr. Conwell
with some young friends who were members of the church. The young men
stoutly maintained that "Conwell was like all the rest--in it for the
almighty dollar." The church members as stoutly asserted that he was
actuated by motives far above such sordid consideration. But the
men would not yield their point and the subject was dropped. A few
evenings later, coming out of a saloon at midnight into a blinding
snowstorm, they heard a man say, "My dear child, why did you not tell
me before that you were in need. You know I would not let you suffer."
"That's Conwell," said one of the young fellows.
"Nothing of the kind," replied the other. "What's the matter with you?
Catch him out a night like this."
"But I tell you that was Conwell's voice," said the first man. "I know
it. Let's follow him and see what he's doing."
Through the thickly falling snow, they could see the tall figure of
Dr. Conwell with a large basket on one arm and leading a little child
by the hand. Keeping a sufficient distance behind, they followed him
to a poor home in a little street, saw him enter, saw the light flash
up and knew that he was living out in deed the doctrine he preached.
Silent, they turned away. What his spoken word in The Temple could not
do his ministry at midnight had accomplished, and they became loyal
and devoted members of the church.
In conversation with a street car conductor at one time, he found the
man eager to hear of Christ and His love, but unable to give heed on
the car because he might be reported for inattention to his duties and
lose his place. Dr. Conwell asked him where he took dinner, and at the
noon hour was there and, plainly and simply, as the man ate his lunch,
told what Christ's love in his heart and life would mean.
Such stories could be multiplied many times of this personal ministry
that seeks day and night, in season and out, to make mankind better,
to lift it up where it may grasp eternal truth.
Francis Willard says:
"To move among the people on the common street; to meet them in the
market-place on equal terms; to live among them not as saint or monk,
but as a brother man with brother men; to serve God not with form or
ritual, but in the free impulse of the soul; to bear the burden
of society and relieve its needs; to carry on its multitudinous
activities in the city, social, commercial, political, and
philanthropic--this is the religion of the Son of man." This is the
religion of Dr. Conwell.
As a leader and organizer he is almost without an equal in church
work. He sees a need. His practical mind goes to work to plan ways to
meet it. He organizes the work thoroughly and carefully; he rallies
his workers about him and then leads them dauntlessly forward to
success. He has weathered many a fierce gale of opposition, won out in
many a furious storm of criticism. The greater the obstacles, the more
brightly does his ability as a leader shine. He seems to call up from
some secret storehouse reserves of enthusiasm. He gets everybody
energetically and cheerfully at work, and the obstacles that seemed
insurmountable suddenly melt away. As some one has said, "He attempts
the impossible, yet finds practical ways to accomplish it"
The way he met an unexpected demand for money during the building of
the church illustrates this:
The trustees had, as they thought, made provision for the renewal of a
note of $2,000, due Dec. 27th. Late Friday, Dec. 24th, the news came
that the note could not be renewed, that it must be paid Monday.
They had no money, nothing could be done but appeal to the people on
But it was not a usual Sunday. The Church, just the night before, had
closed a big fair for the College. Many had served at the fair tables
almost until the Sabbath morning was ushered in. They were tired. All
had given money, many even beyond what they could afford. It was,
besides, the day after Christmas, and if ever a man's pocketbook is
empty, it is then. To make the outlook still drearier, the day opened
with a snowstorm that threatened at church time to turn into a
drizzling rain. Here was truly the impossible, for none of the people
at any time could give a large sum. Yet he faced the situation
dauntlessly, aroused his people, and by evening $2,200 had been
pledged for immediate payment, and of that $1,300 was received in cash
In a sermon once he said:
"Last summer I rode by a locality where there had been a mill, now
partially destroyed by a cyclone. I looked at the great engine lying
upon its side. I looked at the wheels, at the boilers so out of place,
thrown carelessly together. I saw pieces of iron the uses of which I
did not understand. I saw iron bands, bearings, braces, and shafting
scattered about, and I found the great circular saw rusting, flat in
the grass. I went on my way wondering why any person should abandon so
many pieces of such excellent machinery, leaving good property to go
to waste. But again, not many weeks ago, I went by that same place and
saw a building there, temporary in its nature, but with smoke pouring
out of the stack and steam hissing and puffing from the exhaust pipe.
I heard the sound of the great saw singing its song of industry; I saw
the teamsters hauling away great loads of lumber. The only difference
between the apparently useless old lumber and scrap iron, piled
together in promiscuous confusion, machinery thrown into a heap
without the arrangement, and the new building with its powerful engine
working smoothly and swiftly for the comfort and wealth of men,
was that before the rebuilding, the wheels, the saw, the shafting,
boilers, piston-rod, and fly wheel had no definite relation to each
other. But some man picked out all these features of a complete mill
and put them into proper relation; he adjusted shaft, boiler, and
cogwheel, put water in the boiler and fire under it, let steam into
the cylinders, and moved piston-rod, wheels, and saw. There were no
new cogs, wheels, boilers, or saws; no new piece of machinery; there
has only been an intelligent spirit found to set them in their proper
places and relationship.
"One great difficulty with this world, whether of the entire globe or
the individual church, is that it is made up of all sorts of machinery
which is not adjusted; which is out of place; no fire under the
boiler; no steam to move the machinery. There is none of the necessary
relationship--there can he no affinity between cold and steam,
between power wasted and utility; and to overcome this difficulty is
one of the great problems of the earth to-day. The churches are very
much in this condition. There are cogwheels, pulleys, belting, and
engines in the church, but out of all useful relationship. There are
sincere, earnest Christians, men and women, but they are adjusted
to no power and no purpose; they have no definite relationship to
utility. They go or come, or lie still and rust, and a vast power for
good is unapplied. The text says "We are ambassadors for Christ"; that
means, in the clearest terms, the greatest object of the Christian
teacher and worker should be the bringing into right relations all the
forces of men, and gearing them to the power of Christ"
He undoubtedly understands bringing men together, and getting them
at work to secure almost marvelous results. A friend speaking of his
ability once said: "I admire Mr. Conwell for the power of which he is
possessed of reaching out and getting hold of men and grappling them
to himself with hooks of steel.
"I admire him not only for the power he has of binding men not only
to himself, but of binding men to Christ, and of binding them to one
another; for the power he has of generating enthusiasm. His people
are bound not only to the church, to the pastor, to God, but to one
He never fails to appreciate the spirit with which a church member
works, even if results are not always as anticipated, or even if the
project itself is not always practical. He will cheerfully put his
hand down into his pocket and pay the bill for some impractical
scheme, rather than dampen the ardor of an enthusiastic worker. He
knows that experience will come with practice, but that a willing,
zealous worker is above price.
Those who know him most intimately find in him, despite his strong,
practical common sense, despite his years of hard work in the world,
despite the many times he has been deceived and imposed upon, a
certain boyish simplicity and guilelessness of heart, a touch of the
poetic, idealistic temperament that sees gold where there is only
brass; that hopes and believes, where reason for hope and belief
there is none. It is a winning trait that endears friends to him
most closely, that makes them cheerfully overlook such imprudent
benefactions as may result from it, though he himself holds it with
a strong rein, and only reveals that side of his nature to those who
know him best.
He studies constantly how he may help others, never how he may rest
himself. At his old home at South Worthington, Mass., he has built and
equipped an academy for the education of the boys and girls of the
neighborhood. He wants no boy or girl of his home locality to have
the bitter fight for an education that he was forced to experience.
It is a commodious building with class-rooms and a large public hall
which is used for entertainments, for prayer meetings, harvest homes
and all the gatherings of the nearby farming community.
Many other enterprises besides those directly connected with the
church grow out of Dr. Conwell's desire to be of service to mankind.
But like the organizations of the church, the need for them was
strongly felt before they took form.
While officiating at the funeral of a fireman who had lost his life by
the falling walls of a burning building and who had left three small
children uncared for, Dr. Conwell was impressed with the need of a
home for the orphans of men who risked their lives for the city's
good. Pondering the subject, he was called that same day to the
bedside of a shut-in, who, while he was there, asked him if there was
any way by which she could be of service to helpless children left
without paternal care or support. She said the subject had been on her
mind and such a work was dear to her heart. She was a gifted writer
and wielded considerable influence and could, by her pen, do much good
for such a work, not only by her writings but by personal letters
asking for contributions to establish and support an orphanage. The
coincidence impressed the matter still more strongly on Dr. Conwell's
mind. But that was not the end of it. Still that same day, a lady came
to him and asked his assistance in securing for her a position as
matron of an orphanage; and a woman physician came to his study
and offered her services free, to care for orphan children in an
institution for them.
Such direct leading was not to be withstood. Dr. Conwell called on a
former chief of police and asked his opinion as to an orphanage for
the children of fireman and policeman. The policeman welcomed the
project heartily, said he had long been thinking of that very problem,
and that if it were started by a responsible person, several thousand
dollars would be given by the policeman for its support. Still
wondering if he should take such leadings as indications of a definite
need, Dr. Conwell went to his study, called in some of his church
advisers and talked the matter over. Nothing at that meeting was
definitely settled, because some work interrupted it and those present
dispersed for other duties. But as they disbanded and Dr. Conwell
opened his mail, a check fell out for $75 from Rev. Chas. M. Sheldon,
which he said in the letter accompanying it, he desired to give toward
a movement for helping needy children.
Dr. Conwell no longer hesitated, and the Philadelphia Orphans' Home
Society, of which he is president, was organized, and has done a good
work in caring for helpless little ones, giving its whole effort to
securing permanent homes for the children and their adoption into
Although most of the money from his lectures goes to Temple College,
he uses a portion of it to support poor students elsewhere. He has
paid for the education of 1,550 college students besides contributing
partly to the education of hundreds of others. In fact, all the money
he makes, outside of what is required for immediate needs of his
family, is given away. He cares so little for money for himself, his
wants are so few and simple, that he seldom pays any attention as to
whether he has enough with him for personal use. He found once when
starting to lecture in New Jersey that after he had bought his ticket
he hadn't a cent left. Thinking, however, he would be paid when the
lecture was over, he went on. But the lecture committee told him they
would send a check. Having no money to pay a hotel bill, he took the
train back. Reaching Philadelphia after midnight he boarded a trolley
and told the conductor who he was and his predicament, offering to
send the man the money for his fare next day. But the conductor was
not to be fooled, said he didn't know Dr. Conwell from Adam, and
put him off. And Dr. Conwell walked twenty long blocks to his home,
chuckling all the way at the humor of the situation.
He has a keen sense of humor, as his audiences know. Though the
spiritual side of his nature is so intense, his love of fun and
appreciation of the humorous relieves him from being solemn or
sanctimonious. He is sunny, cheerful, ever ready at a chance meeting
with a smile or a joke. Children, who as a rule look upon a minister
as a man enshrouded in solemn dignity, are delightfully surprised to
find in him a jolly, fun-loving comrade, a fact which has much to do
with the number of young people who throng Grace church and enter its
The closeness of his walk with God is shown in his unbounded faith,
in the implicit reliance he has in the power of prayer. Though to the
world he attacks the problems confronting him with shrewd, practical
business sense, behind and underneath this, and greater than it all,
is the earnestness with which he first seeks to know the will of God
and the sincerity with which he consecrates himself to the work.
Christ is to him a very near personal friend, in very truth an Elder
Brother to whom he constantly goes for guidance and help, Whose will
he wants to do solely, in the current of Whose purpose he wants to
move. "Men who intend to serve the Lord should consecrate themselves
in heart-searching and prayer," he has said many and many a time. And
of prayer itself he says:
"There is planted in every human heart this knowledge, namely, that
there is a power beyond our reach, a mysterious potency shaping the
forces of life, which if we would win we must have in our favor. There
come to us all, events over which we have no control by physical or
mental power. Is there any hope of guiding those mysterious forces?
Yes, friends, there is a way of securing them in our favor or
preventing them from going against us. How? It is by prayer. When a
man has done all he can do, still there is a mighty, mysterious agency
over which he needs influence to secure success. The only way he can
reach that is by prayer."
He has good reason to believe in the power of prayer, for the answers
he has received in some cases have seemed almost miraculous.
When The Temple was being built, Dr. Conwell proposed that the new
pipe organ be put in to be ready for the opening service. But the
church felt it would be unwise to assume such an extra burden of debt
and voted against it. Dr. Conwell felt persuaded that the organ ought
to go in, and spent one whole night in The Temple in prayer for
guidance. As the result, he decided that the organ should be built.
The contract was given, the first payment made, but when in a few
months a note of $1,500 came due, there was not a cent in the treasury
to meet it. He knew it would be a most disastrous blow to the church
interests, with such a vast building project started, to have that
note go to protest. Yet he couldn't ask the membership to raise the
money since it had voted against building the organ at that time.
Disheartened, full of gloomy foreboding, he came Sunday morning to the
church to preach. The money must be ready next morning, yet he knew
not which way to turn. He felt he had been acting in accordance with
God's will, for the decision had been made after a night of earnest
prayer. Yet here stood a wall of Jericho before him and no divine
direction came as to how to make it fall. As he entered his study, his
private secretary handed him a letter. He opened it, and out fell a
check for $1,500 from an unknown man in Massillon, Ohio, who had once
heard Dr. Conwell lecture and felt strangely impelled to send him
$1,500 to use in The Temple work. Dr. Conwell prayed and rejoiced in
an ecstasy of gratitude. Three times he broke down during the sermon.
His people wondered what was the matter, but said he had never
preached more powerfully.
He is a man of prayer and a man of work. Loving, great-hearted,
unselfish, cheery, practical, hard-working, he yet draws his greatest
inspiration from that silent inner communion with the Master he serves
with such single-hearted, unfaltering devotion.
THE MANNER OF THE MESSAGE
The Style of the Sermons. Their Subject Matter. Preaching to Help Some
Individual Church Member.
In the pulpit, Dr. Conwell is as simple and natural as he is in his
study or in the home. Every part of the service is rendered with the
heart, as well as the understanding. His reading of a chapter from the
Bible is a sermon in itself. The vast congregation follow it with as
close attention as they do the sermon. He seems to make every verse
alive, to send it with new meaning into each heart. The people in it
are real people, who have lived and suffered, who had all the hopes
and fears of men and women of to-day. Often little explanations are
dropped or timely, practical applications, and when it is over, if
that were all of the service one would be repaid for attending.
The hymns, too, are read with feeling and life. If a verse expresses a
sentiment contrary to the church feeling, it is not sung. He will not
have sung what is not worthy of belief.
The sermons are full of homely, practical illustrations, drawn from
the experiences of everyday life. Dr. Conwell announces his text and
begins quite simply, sometimes with a little story to illustrate his
thought. If Bible characters take any part in it, he makes them real
men and women. He pictures them so graphically, the audience sees
them, hears them talk, knows what they thought, how they lived. In a
word, each hearer feels as if he had met them personally. Never again
are they mere names. They are living, breathing men and women.
Dr. Conwell makes his sermons human because he touches life, the
life of the past, the life of the present, the lives of those in his
audience. He makes them interesting by his word pictures. He holds
attention by the dramatic interest he infuses into the theme. He has
been called the "Story-telling Preacher" because his sermons are so
full of anecdote and illustrations. But every story not only points
a moral, but is full of the interest that fastens it on the hearer's
mind. Children in their teens enjoy his sermons, so vivid are they, so
full of human, every day interest. Yet all this is but the framework
on which is reared some helpful, inspiring Biblical truth which is
the crown, the climax, and which because of its careful upbuilding by
story and homely illustration is fixed on the hearer's mind and heart
in a way never to be forgotten. It is held there by the simple things
of life he sees about him every day, and which, every time he sees
them, recall the truth he has heard preached. Dr. Thomas May Pierce,
speaking of Dr. Conwell's method of preaching, says:
"Spurgeon sought the masses and found them by preaching the gospel
with homely illustrations; Russell H. Conwell comes to Philadelphia,
he seeks out the masses, he finds them with his plain presentation of
the old, old story."
Occasionally he paints word pictures that hold the audience
enthralled, or when some great wrong stirs him, rises to heights of
impassioned oratory that bring his audience to tears. He never writes
out his sermons. Indeed, often he has no time to give them any
preparation whatever. Sometimes he does not choose his text until he
comes on the platform. Nobody regrets more than Dr. Conwell this lack
of preparation, but so many duties press, every minute has so many
burdens of work, that it is impossible at times to crowd in a thought
for the sermon. It is left for the inspiration of the moment. "I
preach poor sermons that other men may preach good ones," he remarked
once, meaning that so much of his time was taken up with church work
and lecturing that he has little to give his sermons, and almost all
of the fees from his lectures are devoted to the education of men for
His one purpose in his sermons is to bring Christ into the lives of
his people, to bring them some message from the word of God that will
do them good, make them better, lift them up spiritually to a higher
plane. His people know he comes to them with this strong desire in his
heart and they attend the services feeling confident that even though
he is poorly prepared, they will nevertheless get practical and
spiritual help for the week.
When he knows that some one member is struggling with a special
problem either in business, in the home circle, in his spiritual life,
he endeavors to weave into his sermon something that will help him,
knowing that no heart is alone in its sorrow, that the burden one
bears, others carry, and what will reach one will carry a message or
cheer to many.
"During the building of The Temple," says Smith in his interesting
life of Dr. Conwell, "a devoted member, who was in the bookbinding
business, walked to his office every morning and put his car-fare into
the building fund. Dr. Conwell made note of the sacrifice, and asked
himself the question, 'How can I help that man to be more prosperous?'
He kept him in mind, and while on a lecturing trip he visited a town
where improved machines for bookbinding were employed. He called at
the establishment and found out all he could about the new machines.
The next Sunday morning, he used the new bookbinder as an illustration
of some Scriptural truth. The result was, the church member secured
the machines of which his pastor had spoken, and increased his income
many-fold. The largest sum of money given to the building of the new
Temple was given by that same bookbinder.
"A certain lady made soap for a fair held in the Lower Temple. Dr.
Conwell advised her to go into the soap-making business. She hesitated
to take his advice. He visited a well known soap factory, and in one
of his sermons described the most improved methods of soap-making as
an illustration of some improved method of Christian work. Hearing the
illustration used from the pulpit, the lady in question acted on the
pastor's previous advice, and started her nephew in the soap business,
in which he has prospered.
"A certain blacksmith in Philadelphia who was a member of Grace
Church, but who lived in another part of the city, was advised by Dr.
Conwell to start a mission in his neighborhood. The mechanic pleaded
ignorance and his inability to acquire sufficient education to enable
him to do any kind of Christian work. On Sunday morning Dr. Conwell
wove into his sermon an historical sketch of Elihu Burritt, that poor
boy with meagre school advantages, who bound out to a blacksmith, at
the age of sixteen, and compelled to associate with the ignorant, yet
learned thirty-three languages, became a scholar and an orator of
fame. The hesitating blacksmith, encouraged by the example of Elihu
Burritt, took courage and went to work. He founded the mission which
soon grew into the Tioga Baptist Church."
In addition to helping his own church members, this method of
preaching had other results. Smith gives the following instance:
"A few years ago the pastor of a small country church in Massachusetts
resolved to try Dr. Conwell's method of imparting useful information
through his illustrations, and teaching the people what they needed
to know. Acting on Dr. Conwell's advice, he studied agricultural
chemistry, dairy farming, and household economy. He did not become
a sensationalist and advertise to preach on these subjects, but he
brought in many helpful illustrations which the people recognized as
valuable, and soon the meeting-house was filled with eager listeners.
After careful study the minister became convinced that the farmers on
those old worn-out farms in Western Massachusetts should go into the
dairy business, and feed their cows on ensilage through the long New
England winter. One bright morning he preached a sermon on 'Leaven,'
and incidentally used a silo as an illustration. The preacher did not
sacrifice his sermon to his illustration, but taught a great truth
and set the farmers to thinking along a new line. As a result of that
sermon one poor farmer built a silo and filled it with green corn in
the autumn; his cows relished the new food and repaid him splendidly
with milk. That farmer Is the richest man In the country to-day. This
is only one of a great many ways in which that practical preacher
helped his poor, struggling parishioners by using the Conwell method.
What was the spiritual result of such preaching among the country
people? He had a great, wide, and deep revival of religion, the first
the church had enjoyed for twenty-five years."
Thus Dr. Conwell weaves practical sense and spiritual truths together
in a way that helps people for the span of life they live in this
world, for the eternal life beyond. He never forgets the soul and its
needs. That is his foremost thought. But he recognizes also that there
is a body and that it lives in a practical world. And whenever and
wherever he can help practically, as well as spiritually, he does it,
realizing that the world needs Christians who have the means as well
as the spirit to carry forward Christ's work.
Speaking of his methods of preaching, Rev. Albert G. Lawson, D.D.,
"He has been blessed in his ministry because of three things: He has a
democratic, philosophic, philanthropic bee in his bonnet, a big one,
too, and he has attempted to bring us to see that churches mean
something beside fine houses and good music. There must be a
recognition of the fact that when a man is lost, he is lost in body as
well as in soul One needs, therefore, as our Lord would, to begin at
the foundations, the building anew of the mind with the body; and
I bless God for the democratic, and the philosophic, and the
philanthropic idea which is manifest in this strong church. I hope
there will be enough power in it to make every Baptist minister sick
until he tries to occupy the same field that Jesus Christ did in his
life and ministry; until every one of the churches shall recognize the
privilege of having Jesus Christ reshaped in the men and women near
THESE BUSY LATER DAYS
A Typical Week Day. A Typical Sunday. Mrs. Conwell. Back to the
Berkshires in Summer for Rest.
By the record of what Dr. Conwell has accomplished may be judged how
busy are his days.
In early youth he learned to use his time to the best advantage.
Studying and working on the farm, working and studying at Wilbraham
and Yale, told him how precious is each minute. Work he must when he
wanted to study. Study he must when he needed to work. Every minute
became as carefully treasured as though it were a miser's gold. But it
was excellent training for the busy later days when work would press
from all sides until it was distraction to know what to do first.
"Do the next thing," is the advice he gives his college students. It
is undoubtedly a saving of time to take the work that lies immediately
at hand and despatch it. But when the hand is surrounded by work in a
score of important forms, all clamoring for recognition, what is "the
next thing" becomes a question difficult to decide.
Then it is that one must plan as carefully to use one's minutes as he
does to expend one's income when expenses outrun it.
His private secretary gave the following account, in the "Temple
Magazine," of a week day and a Sunday in Dr. Conwell's life:
"No two days are alike in his work, and he has no specified hour for
definite classes of calls or kinds of work.
"After breakfast he goes to his office in The Temple. Here visitors
from half a dozen to twenty await him, representing a great variety of
needs or business.
"Visitors wait their turn in the ante-room of his study and are
received by him in the order of their arrival. The importance of
business, rank or social position of the caller does not interfere
with this order.
[Illustration: THE CHORUS OF THE BAPTIST TEMPLE]
"Throughout the whole day in the street, at the church, at the
College, wherever he goes, he is beset by persons urging him for
money, free lectures, to write introductions to all sorts of books,
for sermons, or to take up collections for indigent individuals or
churches. Letters reach him even from Canada, asking him to take care
of some aunt, uncle, runaway son, or needy family, in Philadelphia.
Sometimes for days together he does not secure five minutes to attend
to his correspondence. Personal letters which he must answer himself
often wait for weeks before he can attend to them, although he
endeavors, as a rule, to answer important letters on the day they
are received. People call to request him to deliver addresses at
the dedication of churches, schoolhouses, colleges, flag-raisings,
commencements, and anniversaries, re-unions, political meetings, and
all manner of reform movements. Authors urge him to read their work in
manuscript; orators without orations write to him and come to him for
address or sermon; applications flow in for letters of introduction
highly recommending entire strangers for anything they want. Agents
for books come to him for endorsements, with religious newspapers for
subscriptions and articles, and with patent medicines urging him to be
'cured with one bottle.'
"It is well known that he was a lawyer before entering the ministry,
and orphans, guardians, widows, and young men entering business come
to him asking him to make wills, contracts, etc., and to give them
points of law concerning their undertakings. Weddings and funerals
claim his attention. Urgent messages to visit the sick and the dying
and the unfortunate come to him, and these appeals are answered first
either by himself or the associate pastor; the cries of the suffering
making the most eloquent of all appeals to these two busy men."
Frequently he comes to the church again in the afternoon to meet
some one by appointment. Both afternoon and evening are crowded with
engagements to see people, to make addresses, to attend special
meetings of various kinds, with College and Hospital duties.
"I am expected to preside at six different meetings to-night," he said
smilingly to a friend at The Temple one evening as the membership
began to stream in to look after its different lines of work.
Much, of the time during the winter he is away lecturing, but he keeps
in constant communication with The Temple and its work. By letter,
wire or telephone he is ready to respond to any emergency requiring
his advice or suggestion. These lecture trips carry him all over the
country, but they are so carefully planned that with rare exceptions
he is in the pulpit Sunday morning. Frequently, when returning, he
wires for his secretary to meet him part way, if from the West, at
Harrisburg or Altoona; if from the South, at Washington or beyond. The
secretary brings the mail and the remaining hours of the journey are
filled with work, dictating letters, articles for magazines or press,
possibly material for a book, whatever work most presses.
Pastoral calls in the usual sense of the term cannot be made in a
membership of more than three thousand. But visits to the sick, to
the poor, to the dying, are paid whenever the call comes. To help and
console the afflicted, to point the way to Christ, is the work nearest
and dearest to Dr. Conwell's heart and always comes first. Funerals,
too, claim a large part of the pastor's time, seven in one day among
the Grace Church membership calling for the services of both Dr.
Conwell and his associate. Weddings are not an unimportant feature,
six having been one day's record at The Temple.
Of his Sundays, his secretary says:
"From the time of rising until half-past eight, he gives special
attention to the subject of the morning sermon, and usually selects
his text and general line of thought before sitting down to breakfast.
After family prayers, he spends half an hour in his study, at home,
examining books and authorities in the completion of his sermon.
Sometimes he is unable to select a text until reaching The Temple. He
has, though rarely, made his selection after taking his place at the
"At nine-thirty, he is always promptly in his place at the opening of
the Young Men's prayer-meeting or at the Women's prayer-meeting in the
Lower Temple. At the Young Men's meeting he plays the organ and leads
the singing. If he takes any other part in the meeting he is very
brief, in talk or prayer.
"At half-past ten he goes directly to the Upper Temple, where as a
rule he conducts all the exercises with the exception of the 'notices'
and a prayer offered by the associate pastor, or in his absence at an
overflow service in the Lower Temple, by the dean of the College or
chaplain of the Hospital. The pastor meets the candidates for
baptism in his study before service, for conference and prayer. In
administering the ordinance, he is assisted by the associate pastor,
who leads the candidates into the baptistry.
"The pastor reads the hymns. It is his custom to preach without
any notes whatever; rarely, a scrap of paper may lie on the desk
containing memoranda or suggestions of leading thoughts, but
frequently even when this is the case the notes are ignored.
"A prominent--possibly the prevailing--idea in the preparation of his
sermons is the need of individuals in his congregation. He aims to
say those things which will be the most helpful and inspiring to the
unconverted seeking Christ, or to the Christian desiring to lead a
nobler spiritual life. It may be said of nearly all his illustrations
that they present such a variety of spiritual teaching that different
persons will catch from them different suggestions adapted to needs of
"The morning service closes promptly at twelve o'clock; then follows
an informal reception for thirty minutes or it may be an hour, for
hundreds, sometimes a thousand and more, many of them visitors from
other cities and states, press forward to shake hands with him. This,
Dr. Conwell considers an important part of his church work, giving him
an opportunity to meet many of the church members and extend personal
greetings to those whom he would have no possible opportunity to visit
in their homes.
"He dines at one o'clock. At two, he is in The Temple; again he
receives more callers, and if possible makes some preparation for
services of the afternoon, in connection with the Sunday-school work.
At two-thirty, he is present at the opening of the Junior department
of the Sunday-school in the Lower Temple, where he takes great
interest in the singing, which is a special feature of that
department. At three o'clock, he appears promptly on the platform in
the auditorium where the Adult department of the Sunday-school meets,
gives a short exposition of the lesson for the day, and answers from
the Question Box. These cover a great variety of subjects, from the
absurdity of some crack-brained crank to the pathetic appeal of some
needy soul. Some of these questions may be sent in by mail during the
week, but the greater part of them are handed to the pastor by the
ushers. To secure an answer the question must be upon some subject
connected with religious life or experience, some theme of Christian
ethics in everyday life.
"When the questions are answered, the pastor returns to the Lower
Temple, going to the Junior, Intermediate, or Kindergarten department
to assist in the closing exercises. At the close of the Sunday-school
session, teachers and scholars surround him, seeking information or
advice concerning the school work, their Christian experience or
perhaps to tell him their desire to unite with the church.[A]
[Footnote A: Lately (1905), however, he has had to give up much of
this Sunday-school work on account of the need of rest.]
"As a rule, he leaves The Temple at five o'clock If he finds no
visitors with appeals for counsel or assistance waiting for him at his
home, he lies down for half an hour. Usually the visitors are there,
and his half-hour rest is postponed until after the evening service.
"Supper at five-thirty, after which he goes to his study to prepare
for the evening service, selecting his subject and looking up such
references as he thinks may be useful. At seven-fifteen, he is in The
Temple again, often visiting for a few moments one of the Christian
Endeavor societies, several of which are at that time in session in
the Lower Temple. At half-past seven the general service is held in
the auditorium. The evening sermon is published weekly in the "Temple
Review." He gives all portions of this service full attention.
"At nine o'clock this service closes, and the pastor goes once more
to the Lower Temple, where both congregations, the 'main' and the
'overflow' unite, so far as is possible, in a union prayer service.
The hall of the Lower Temple and the rooms connected with it are
always overcrowded at this service meeting, and many are unable to
get within hearing of the speakers on the platform. Here Dr. Conwell
presides at the organ and has general direction of the evangelistic
services, assisted by the associate pastor. As enquirers rise for
prayers,--the prayers of God's people,--Dr. Conwell makes note of each
one, and to their great surprise recognizes them when he meets them on
the street or at another service, long afterward. This union meeting
is followed by another general reception especially intended for a few
words of personal conversation with those who have risen for prayer
and with strangers who are brought forward and introduced by members
of the church. This is the most fatiguing part of the day's work and
occupies from one hour to an hour and a half. He reaches home about
eleven o'clock and before retiring makes a careful memoranda of such
people as have requested him to pray for them, and such other matters
as may require his attention during the week. He seldom gets to bed
much before midnight."
In all the crowd and pressure of work, he is ably assisted by Mrs.
Conwell. In the early days of his ministry at Grace Church she was
his private secretary, but as the work grew for both of them, she was
compelled to give this up.
She enters into all her husband's work and plans with cheery, helpful
enthusiasm. Yet her hands are full of her own special church work, for
she is a most important member of the various working associations of
the church, college and hospital. For many years she was treasurer of
the large annual fairs of The Temple, as well as being at the head of
a number of large teas and fairs held for the benefit of Samaritan
Hospital. In addition to all this church and charitable work, she
makes the home a happy centre of the brightest social life and a
quiet, well-ordered retreat for the tired preacher and lecturer when
he needs rest.
A writer in "The Ladies' Home Journal," in a series of articles on
"Wives of Famous Pastors," says of Mrs. Conwell:
"Mrs. Conwell finds her greatest happiness in her husband's work, and
gives him always her sympathy and devotion. She passes many hours at
work by his side when he is unable to notice her by word or look; she
knows he delights In her presence, for he often says when writing, 'I
can do better if you remain.' Her whole life is wrapped up in the work
of The Temple, and all those multitudinous enterprises connected with
that most successful of churches.
"She makes an ideal wife for a pastor whose work is varied and whose
time is as interrupted as are Mr. Conwell's work and time. On her
husband's lecture tours she looks well after his comfort, seeing to
those things which a busy and earnest man is almost sure to overlook
and neglect. In all things he finds her his helpmeet and caretaker."
From this busy life the family escape in summer to Dr. Conwell's
boyhood home in the Berkshires. Here amid the hills he loves, with the
brook of his boyhood days again singing him to sleep, he rests and
recuperates for the coming winter's campaign.
The little farmhouse is vastly changed since those early days. Many
additions have been made, modern improvements added, spacious porches
surround it on all sides, and a green, velvety lawn dotted with
shrubbery and flowers has replaced the rocks and stones, the sparse
grass of fifty years ago. If Martin and Miranda Conwell could return
and see the little house now with its artistic furnishings, its walls
hung with pictures from those very lands the mother read her boy
about, they would think miracles had indeed come to pass.
In front of the house where once flashed a little brook that "set the
silences to rhyme" is now a silvery lake framed in rich green foliage.
Up in the hill where swayed the old hemlock with the eagle's nest for
a crown rises an observatory. From the top one gazes in summer into a
billowy sea of green in which the spire of the Methodist church rises
like a far distant white sail.
It is a happy family that gathers in the old homestead during the
summer days. His daughter, now Mrs. Tuttle, comes with her children,
Mr. Turtle, who is a civil engineer, joining them when his work
permits. Dr. Conwell's son Leon, proprietor and editor of the
Somerville (Mass.) "Journal," with his wife and child, always spend as
much of the summer there as possible. One vacant chair there is in the
happy family circle. Agnes, the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Conwell,
died in 1901, in her twenty-sixth year. She was the wife of Alfred
Barker. A remarkably bright and gifted girl, clever with her pen,
charming in her personality, an enthusiastic and successful worker in
the many interests of church, college and hospital, her death was a
sad loss to her family and friends.
Not only the beauty of the place but the associations bring rest and
peace to the tired spirit of the busy preacher and lecturer, and he
returns to his work refreshed, ready to take up with rekindled energy
and enthusiasm the tasks awaiting him.
Thus his busy life goes on, full of unceasing work for the good of
others. Over his bed hangs a gold sheathed sword which to him is a
daily inspiration to do some deed worthy of the sacrifice which it
typifies. "I look at it each morning," said Dr. Conwell to a friend,
"and pray for help to do something that day to make my life worthy of
such a sacrifice." And each, day he prays the prayer his father prayed
for him in boyhood days, "May no person be the worse because I have
lived this day, but may some one be the better."
AS A LECTURER
His Wide Fame as a Lecturer. Date of Entrance on Lecture Platform.
Number of Lectures Given. The Press on His Lectures. Some Instances of
How His Lectures Have Helped People. Address at Banquet to President
In the maze of this church, college and hospital work, Dr. Conwell
finds time to lecture from one hundred to two hundred and twenty-five
times in a year. Indeed, he frequently leaves Philadelphia at midnight
after a Sunday of hard work, travels and lectures as far as Kansas and
is back again for Friday evening prayer meeting and for his duties the
As a lecturer, he is probably known to a greater number of people
than he is as a preacher, for his lecturing trips take him from the
Atlantic to the Pacific. Since he began, he has delivered more than
six thousand lectures.
He has been on the lecture platform since the year 1862, giving on
an average of two hundred lectures in a year. In addition, he has
addressed many of the largest conventions in America and preaches
weekly to an audience of more than three thousand. So that he has
undoubtedly addressed more people in America than any man living. He
is to-day one of the most eminent and most popular figures on the
lecture platform of this country, the last of the galaxy of such men
as Gough, Beecher, Chapin. "There are but ten real American lecturers
on the American platform to-day," says "Leslie's Weekly." "Russell
Conwell is one of the ten and probably the most eminent."
His lectures, like his sermons, are full of practical help and good
sense. They are profusely illustrated with anecdote and story that
fasten the thought of his subject. He uses no notes, and gives his
lecture little thought during the day. Indeed, he often does not know
the subject until he hears the chairman announce it. If the lecture is
new or one that he has not given for many years, he occasionally has a
few notes or a brief outline before him. But usually he is so full
of the subject, ideas and illustrations so crowd his mind that he is
troubled with the wealth, rather than the dearth, of material. He
rarely gives a lecture twice alike. The main thought, of course, is
the same. But new experiences suggest new illustrations, and so, no
matter how many times one hears it, he always hears something new.
"That's the third time I've heard Acres of Diamonds," said one
delighted auditor, "and every time it grows better."
Perhaps the best idea of his lectures can be gleaned from the press
notices that have appeared, though he never keeps a press notice
himself, nor pays any attention to the compliments that may have been
paid him. These that have been collected at random by friends by no
means cover the field of what has been said or written about him.
Speaking of a lecture in 1870, when he toured England, the London
"The man is weirdly like his native hills. You can hear the cascades
and the trickling streams in his tone of voice. He has a strange and
unconscious power of so modulating his voice as to suggest the roar of
the tempest in rocky declivities, or the soft echo of music in distant
valleys. The breezy freshness and natural suggestiveness of varied
nature in its wild state was completely fascinating. He excelled in
description, and the auditor could almost hear the Niagara roll as he
described it, and listened to catch the sound of sighing pines in his
voice as he told of the Carolinas."
"The lecture was wonderful in clearness, powerful, and eloquent in
delivery," says the London "News." "The speaker made the past a living
present, and led the audience, unconscious of time, with him in his
walks and talks with famous men. When engrossed in his lecture his
facial expression is a study. His countenance conveys more quickly
than his words the thought which he is elucidating, and when he refers
to his Maker, his face takes on an expression indescribable for its
purity. He seems to hold the people as children stare at brilliant and
"It is of no use to try to report Conwell's lectures," is the verdict
of the Springfield "Union." "They are unique. Unlike anything or any
one else. Filled with good sense, brilliant with new suggestions, and
inspiring always to noble life and deeds, they always please with
their wit. The reader of his addresses does not know the full power of
"His stories are always singularly adapted to the lecturer's purpose.
Each story is mirth-provoking. The audience chuckled, shook, swayed,
and roared with convulsions of laughter," says the "London Times." "He
has been in the lecture field but a few years, yet he has already made
a place beside such men as Phillips, Beecher, and Chapin."
"The only lecturer in America," concludes the Philadelphia "Times,"
"who can fill a hall in this city with three thousand people at a
dollar a ticket."
The most popular of all his lectures is "Acres of Diamonds," which he
has given 3,420 times, which is printed, in part, at the end of the
book. But his list of lectures is a long one, including:
"The Philosophy of History."
"Men of the Mountains."
"The Old and the New New England."
"My Fallen Comrades."
"The Dust of Our Battlefields."
"Was it a Ghost Story?"
"The Unfortunate Chinese."
"Three Scenes in Babylon."
"Three Scenes from the Mount of Olives."
"Americans in Europe."
"General Grant's Empire."
"Success in Life."
"The Silver Crown, or Born a King."
"Heroism of a Private Life."
"The Jolly Earthquake."
"Heroes and Heroines."
"Garibaldi, or the Power of Blind Faith."
"The Angel's Lily."
"The Life of Columbus."
"Five Million Dollars for the Face of the Moon."
"Henry Ward Beecher."
"That Horrid Turk."
"Cuba's Appeal to the United States."
"Anita, the Feminine Torch."
"Personal Glimpses of Celebrated Men and Women."
His lecturing tours now are confined to the United States, as his
church duties will not permit him to go farther afield, but so wide is
his fame that a few years ago he declined an offer of $39,000 for a
six months' engagement In Australia. This year (1905) he received an
offer of $50,000 for two hundred lectures in Australia and England.
He lectures, as he preaches, with the earnest desire ever uppermost
to help some one. He never goes to a lecture engagement without a
definite prayer to God that his words may be so directed as to do some
good to the community or to some individual. When he has delivered
"Acres of Diamonds," he frequently leaves a sum of money with the
editor of the leading paper in the town to be given as a prize for any
one who advances the most practical idea for using waste forces in the
neighborhood. In one Vermont town where he had lectured, the money was
won by a young man who after a careful study of the products of
the neighborhood, said he believed the lumber of that section was
especially adapted to the making of coffins. A sum of $2,000 was
raised, the water power harnessed and a factory started.
A man in Michigan who was on the verge of bankruptcy, having lost
heavily in real estate speculation, heard "Acres of Diamonds," and
started in, as the lecture advises, right at home to rebuild his
fortunes. Instead of giving up, he began the same business again,
fought a plucky fight and is now president of the bank and a leading
financier of the town.
A poor farmer of Western Massachusetts, finding it impossible to
make a living on his stony place, had made up his mind to move and