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Russell H. Conwell by Agnes Rush Burr

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advertised his farm for sale. He heard "Acres of Diamonds," took to
heart its lessons. "Raise what the people about you need," it said to
him. He went into the small fruit business and is now a rich man.

The man who invented the turnout and switch system for electric cars
received his suggestion from "Acres of Diamonds."

A baker heard "Acres of Diamonds," got an idea for an improved oven
and made thousands of dollars from it.

A teacher in Montrose, Pennsylvania, was so impressed with the
practical ideas in the now famous lecture that he determined to teach
what his pupils most needed to know. Being in a farming district, he
added agricultural chemistry to their studies with such success that
the next year he was elected principal of one of the Montrose schools
and shortly afterward was appointed Superintendent of Education and
President of the State University of Ohio.

But incidents by the hundreds could be related or practical, helpful
results that flow from Dr. Conwell's lectures.

There is yet another side of their helpfulness that the world knows
little about. In his early lecturing days, he resolved to give his
lecture fees to the education of poor boys and faithfully through all
these years has that resolve been kept The Redpath Lyceum Bureau has
paid him nearly $300,000, and more than $200,000 of this has gone
directly to help those poor in purse who hunger after knowledge, as he
himself did in those days at Wilbraham when help would have been so
welcome. The balance has been given to Temple College, which in itself
is the strongest and most helpful hand ever stretched out to those
struggling for an education.

In addition to his lectures, he is called upon to make innumerable
addresses at various meetings, public gatherings and conventions.
Those who have never heard him speak may gather some idea of the
impression he makes by the following letter written by a gentleman
who attended the banquet given to President McKinley at the G.A.R.
encampment in Philadelphia in 1899:

"At the table with the President was Russell H. Conwell, and no one
near me could tell me who he was. We mistook him for the new Secretary
of War, until Secretary Root made his speech. There was a highly
intelligent and remarkably representative audience of the nation at a
magnificent banquet in the hall decorated regardless of cost.

"The addresses were all specially good and made by men specially
before the nation. Yet all the evening till after midnight there
were continuous interruptions and much noise of voices, dishes, and
waiters. Men at distant tables laughed out often. It was difficult to
hear at best, the acoustics were so bad. The speakers took it as a
matter of course at such a 'continuous performance.' Some of the
Representatives must have thought they were at home in the House at
Washington. They listened or not, as they chose. The great hall was
quiet only when the President gave his address, except when the
enclosed remarks were made long after midnight, when all were worn out
with speeches.

"When, about the last thing, Conwell was introduced by the chairman,
no one heard his name because of the noise at the tables. Two men
asked me who he was. But not two minutes after he began, the place
was still and men craned their necks to catch his words. I never saw
anything so magical. I know how you would have enjoyed it. Its effect
was a hot surprise. The revelers all worn; the people ready to go
home; the waiters impatient; the speech wholly extemporaneous. It was
a triumph that did honor to American oratory at its best. The applause
was decisive and deafening. I never heard of anything better done
under such circumstances.

"None of the morning papers we could get on the train mentioned either
Conwell or his great speech. Perhaps Conwell asked the reporters to
suppress it. I don't know as to that. But it was the first thing we
looked for. Not a word. There is no clue to account for that. Yet that
is the peculiarity of this singular life: one of the most public, one
of the most successful men, but yet one of the least discussed or
written about. He was to us as visitors the great feature of that
banquet as a speaker, and yet wholly ignored by the press of his own
city. The United States Senator Penrose seemed only to know in a
general way that Conwell was a great benefactor and a powerful citizen
and preacher. Conwell is a study. I cogitated on him all day. I was
told that he marched throughout the great parade in the rear rank of
his G.A.R. post. It is the strangest case of a private life I have
ever heard mentioned. The Quakers will wake up resurrection day and
find out Conwell lived in Philadelphia. It is startling to think how
measureless the influence of such a man is in its effect on the world.
Through forty years educating men, healing the sick, caring for
children, then preaching to a great church, then lecturing in the
great cities nearly every night, then writing biographies; and also an
accessible counselor to such masses of young people!"

The address referred to in the foregoing letter was taken down in
shorthand, and was substantially as follows:

"Comrades: I feel at this moment as Alexander Stephens said he felt at
the close of the war of 1865, and it can well be illustrated by the
boasting athlete who declared he could throw out twenty men from a
neighboring saloon in five minutes. He requested his friend to stand
outside and count as he went in and threw them out. Soon a battered
man was thrown out the door far into the street. The friend began his
count and shouted, 'One!' But the man in the street staggered to his
feet and angrily screamed, 'Stop counting! It's me!' When this feast
opened I was proudly expecting to make a speech, but the great men who
have preceded me have done all and more than I intended to do. The
hour is spent--they are sounding 'taps' at the door. I could not hope
to hold your attention. It only remains for me to do my duty in behalf
of Meade Post, and do it in the briefest possible space.

"Comrades of Boston and New York, you have heard the greetings
when you entered the city--you have seen the gorgeous and artistic
decorations on halls and dwellings--you have heard the shouts of the
million and more who pressed into the streets, waved handkerchiefs
from the stands, and looked over each other's heads from all the
windows and roofs throughout that weary march. Here you see the lovely
decorations, the most costly feast, and listen to the heart-thrilling,
soul-subduing orchestra. All of these have already spoken to you an
unmistakable message of welcome. Knowing this city as I do, I can say
to you that not one cornet or viol, not one hymn or shout, not one
wave in all the clouds which fair hands rolled up, not one gun of all
that shook the city, not one flush of red on a dear face of beauty,
not one blessing from the aged on his cane, not one tear on the
eyelids which glowed again as your march brought back the gleam of a
morning long since dead, not one clasp of the hand, not one 'God bless
you!' from saint or priest in all this fair city, but I believe has
been deeply, earnestly, sincere.

"This repast is not the result of pride--is not arranged for gluttony
or fashion. No political scheme inspired its proposal, and no ulterior
motive moved these companions to take your arm. The joy that seems to
beam in the comrade's eye and unconsciously express itself in word and
gesture, is real. It is the hearty love of a comrade who showed his
love for his country by battle in 1862, and who only finds new ways in
time of peace for expressing the same character now. The eloquence of
this night has been unusually, earnestly, practically patriotic and
fraternal. It has been the utterance of hearts beating full and strong
for humanity. Loyalty, fraternity, and charity are here in fact. It is
true, honest, heart. Such fraternal greetings may be as important for
liberty and justice as the winning of a Gettysburg. For the mighty
influence of the Grand Army of the Republic is even more potent now
than it was on that bloody day. Peace has come and the brave men
of the North recognize and respect the motives and bravery of that
Confederate army which dealt them such fearful blows believing _they_
were in the right. But the glorious peace we enjoy and the greatness
of our nation's name and power are due as much to the living Grand
Army as to the dead. I am getting weary of being counted 'old,' but I
am more tired of hearing the soldier overpraised for what he did in
1861. You have more influence now than then, and are better men in
every sense. At Springfield, Illinois, they illustrated the growth of
the city by telling me that in 1856 a lunatic preacher applied to Mr.
Lincoln for his aid to open the legislative chamber for a series of
meetings to announce that the Lord was coming at once. Mr. Lincoln
refused, saying, 'If the Lord knew Springfield as well as I do, he
wouldn't come within a thousand miles of it.' But now the legislative
halls are open, and every good finds welcome in that city. The world
grows better--cities are not worse. The nation has not gone backward,
and all the good deeds did not cease in 1865. The Grand Army of the
Republic, speaking plainly but with no sense of egotism, has been
praised too much for the war and too little for its heroism and power
in peace. Does it make a man an angel to eat hardtack? Or does it
educate in inductive philosophy to chase a pig through a Virginia
fence? Peace has its victories no less renowned than war.

"The Grand Army is not growing old. You all feel younger at this
moment than you did at the close of the day's march. Your work is not
finished. You were not fossilized in 1865. The war was not a nurse,
nor was it a very thorough schoolmaster. It did serve, however, to
show to friends and country what kind of men America contained. Not I
nor you perhaps can take this pleasing interpretation to ourselves,
but looking at the five hundred thousand men who outlived the war, we
see that they were the same men before the war and have remained
the same since the war. Their ability, friendship, patriotism, and
religion were better known after they had shown their faith by deeds,
but their identity and character were in great measure the same.

"Many of our Presidents have been taken from the ranks of the army.
But it would be a mockery of political wisdom to declare that a free,
intelligent people elect a chief executive simply to reward him for
having been in the war of 1861. Captain Garfield, Lieutenant Hayes,
Major McKinley, and General Grant were not put at the head of the
nation as one would vote a pension. They were elected because the
people believed them to be the very best statesmen they could select
for the office. For a time every foreign consul except four was a
soldier. Two-thirds of Congress had been in the army. Twenty-nine
governors in the same year had been in military service. Nine
presidents of universities had been volunteers in 1863. Three thousand
postmasters appointed in one year were from the army. Cabinet
officers, custom-house officers, judges, district attorneys, and
clerks in public offices were almost exclusively selected from army
men. Could you look in the face of the nations and declare that with
all our enterprise, learning, progress, and common sense, we had such
an inadequate idea of the responsibilities of government that we
elected men to office who were incapable, simply because they had
carried a gun or tripped over a sword! No, no. The shrewd Yankee and
the calculating Hoosier are not caught with such chaff. They selected
these officers as servants of the nation because the war had served to
show what sort of men they were.

"In short, they appointed them to high positions because they were
true men. They are just as true men now. They are as patriotic, as
industrious, as unselfish, as brave to-day as they were in the dark
days of the rebellion. Their efforts are as honest now as they were
then, to perpetuate free institutions and maintain the honor of the

"They have endowed colleges, built cathedrals, opened the wilderness
to railroads, filled the American desert with roses, constructed
telephone, telegraph, and steamship lines. They have stood in
classroom and in the pulpit by the thousand; they have honored our
courts with their legal acumen; they have covered the plains with
cities, and compelled the homage of Europe to secure our scholars, our
wheat and our iron. The soldier has controlled the finances of
banking systems and revolutionized labor, society, and arts with his
inventions. They saw poor Cuba, beautiful as her surf and femininely
sweet as her luscious fruits, tortured in chains. They saw her lovely
form through the blood that covered her, and Dewey, Sampson, Schley,
Miles, Merritt, Sigsbee, Evans, Philip, Alger, and McKinley of the
Grand Army led the forces to her rescue. The Philippines in the
darkness of half-savage life were brought unexpectedly under our
colors because Dewey and his commanders were in 1898 just the same
heroes they were in 1864.

"At the bidding of Meade Post, then, I welcome you and bid you
farewell. This gathering was in the line of duty. Its spectacle has
impressed the young, inspired the strong man, and comforted the aged.
The fraternity here so sincerely expressed to-night will encourage us
all to enfold the old flag more tenderly, to love our country more
deeply, and to go on in every path of duty, showing still the spirit
of '61 wherever good calls for sacrifice or truth for a defender."



His Rapid Method of Working. A Popular Biographical Writer. The Books
He Has Written.

Still the minutes are not full. The man who learned five languages
while going to and from his business on the street cars of Boston
finds time always to crowd in one thing more. Despite his multitude of
other cares, Dr. Conwell's pen is not idle. It started to write in his
boyhood days and it has been writing ever since.

His best known works are his biographies. Charles A. Dana, the famous
editor and publisher of the New York "Sun," just before his death,
wrote to Harper Brothers recommending that Mr. Conwell be secured to
write a series of books for an "American Biographical Library," and in
his letter said:

"I write the above of my own notion, as I have seldom met Mr. Conwell;
but as a writer of biographies he has no superior. Indeed, I can say
considerately, that he is one of America's greatest men. He never
advertises himself, never saves a newspaper clipping concerning
himself, never keeps a sermon of his own, and will not seek applause.
You must go after him if you want him. He will not apply to you. His
personal history is as fascinating as it is exceptional. He took
himself as a poor back country lad, created out of the crude material
the orator which often combines a Webster with Gough, and made himself
a scholar of the first rank. He created from nothing a powerful
university of high rank in Philadelphia, especially for the common
people. He created a great and influential church out of a small
unknown parish. He has assisted more men in securing an education than
any other American. He has created a hospital of the first order and
extent. He has fed the poor and housed large numbers of orphans. He
has written many books and has addressed more people than any other
living man. To do this without writing or dictating a line to
advertise himself is nothing else than the victory of a great genius.
He is a gem worth your seeking, valuable anywhere. I say again that I
regard Russell H. Conwell, of Philadelphia, as America's greatest man
in the best form. I cannot do your work; he can."

His most successful biography, his "Life of Charles H. Spurgeon," was
written in a little more than two weeks. In fact, it was not written
at all, it was dictated while on a lecturing trip. When Spurgeon died,
a publisher telegraphed Dr. Conwell if he would write a biography of
the great London preacher. Dr. Conwell was traveling at the time in
the West, lecturing. He wired an affirmative, and sent for his private
secretary. It was during the building of the College when great
financial responsibilities were resting on him, and he was lecturing
every night to raise money for the college building fund. His
secretary accompanied him on the lecture trip. Dr. Conwell dictated
the book on the train during the day, the secretary copied it from his
notes at night while Dr. Conwell lectured. At the end of two weeks
the book of six hundred pages was nearly completed. It had a sale of
125,000 copies in four months. And all the royalties were given to a
struggling mission of Grace Baptist Church.

[Illustration: TEMPLE COLLEGE]

His biography of Elaine was written almost as rapidly. In a few hours
after Blaine was nominated as candidate of the Republican party for
the presidency. Dr. and Mrs. Conwell boarded a train and started for
Augusta, Maine. In three weeks the book was completed.

He has worked at times from four o'clock in the morning until twelve
at night when work pressed and time was short.

His life of Bayard Taylor was also written quickly. He had traveled
with Taylor through Europe and long been an intimate friend, so that
he was particularly well fitted for the work. The book was begun after
Taylor's death, December 19, 1878, in Germany, and completed before
the body arrived in America. Five thousand copies were sold before the

Dr. Conwell presided at the memorial service held in Tremont Temple,
Boston. Many years after, in a sermon preached at The Temple, he thus
described the occasion:

"When Bayard Taylor, the traveler and poet, died, great sorrow was
felt and exhibited by the people of this nation. I remember well the
sadness which was noticed in the city of Boston. The spontaneous
desire to give some expression to the respect in which Hr. Taylor's
name was held, pressed the literary people of Boston, both writers and
readers, forward to a public memorial in the great hall of Tremont
Temple. As a friend of Mr. Taylor's I was called upon to preside at
that memorial gathering. That audience of the scholarly classes was a
wonderful tribute to a remarkable man, and one for which. I feel still
a keen sense of gratitude. I remember asking Mr. Longfellow to write
a poem, and to read it, and standing on the broad step at his front
door, in Cambridge, he replied to my suggestion with the sweet
expression: 'The universal sorrow is almost too sacred to touch with a

"But when the evening came, although Professor Longfellow was too ill
to be present, his poem was there. The great hall was crowded with
the most cultivated people of Boston. On the platform sat many of
the poets, orators and philosophers, who have since passed into
the Beyond. When, after several speeches had been made, I arose to
introduce Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the pressure of the crowd was too
great for me to reach my chair again, and I took for a time the seat
which Dr. Holmes had just left, and next to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Never were words of poet listened to with a silence more respectfully
profound than were the words of Professor Longfellow's poem as they
were so touchingly and beautifully read by Dr. Holmes:

"'Dead he lay among his books,
The peace of God was in his looks!

* * * * *

Let the lifeless body rest,
He is gone who was its guest.--
Gone as travelers haste to leave
An inn, nor tarry until eve!
Traveler, in what realms afar,
In what planet, in what star,
In what vast, aerial space,
Shines the light upon thy face?
In what gardens of delight
Rest thy weary feet to-night--'

* * * * *

"Before Dr. Holmes resumed his seat, Mr. Emerson whispered in my ear,
in his epigrammatic style, 'This is holy Sabbath time.'"

Among the books which Dr. Conwell has written are:

"Lessons of Travel."
"Why and How Chinese Emigrate."
"Nature's Aristocracy."
"History of the Great Fire in Boston."
"The Life of Gen. U.S. Grant."
"Woman and the Law."
"The life of Rutherford B. Hayes."
"History of the Great Fire in St. Johns."
"The Life of Bayard Taylor."
"The Life, Speeches, and Public Service of James A. Garfield."
"Little Bo."
"Joshua Gianavello."
"The Life of James G. Blaine."
"Acres of Diamonds."
"Gleams of Grace."
"The Life of Charles H. Spurgeon."
"The New Day."

The manuscript which he prepared most carefully was the "Life of
Daniel Manin," which was destroyed by fire when his home at Newton
Centre was burned. He had spent much time and labor collecting data on
Italian history for it, and the loss was irreparable.

"Joshua Gianavello" is a biographical story of the great Waldensian
chieftain who loved religions liberty and feared neither inquisition
nor death. It is dedicated to "the many believers in the divine
principle that every person should have the right to worship God
according to the dictates of his own conscience; and to the heroic
warriors who are still contending for religious freedom in the yet
unfinished battle."

The same powerful imagination that pictures so realistically to his
lecture and church audiences the scenes and people he is describing,
makes them live in his books. His style holds the reader by its
vividness of description, its powerful delineation of character and

His latest book, "The New Day," is an amplification of his great
lecture, "Acres of Diamonds." It is not only delightful reading but
it is full of practical help for the affairs of everyday life. For
no matter in what field Dr. Conwell works, this great desire of his
life--to help his brother man--shines out.



Reception Tendered by Citizens of Philadelphia in Acknowledgment of
Work as Public Benefactor.

One more scene in the life of this man who, from a barefoot country
boy with no advantages, has become one of the most widely known of the
preachers, lecturers and writers of the day, as well as the founder
of a college and hospital holding an honored position among the
institutions of the country.

In 1894, acting upon the advice of his physician, Dr. Conwell went
abroad. It is no unusual thing for pastors to go abroad, nor for
members of their church and friends to see them off. But for Grace
Baptist Church personally to wish its pastor "Bon voyage" is something
of an undertaking. A special train was chartered to take the members
to New York. Here a steamer engaged for the purpose awaited them, and
twelve hundred strong, they steamed down the harbor alongside the "New
York" that Dr. Conwell's last glimpse of America might be of the faces
of his own church family.

On his return six hundred church members met him and gave him a royal
welcome, and a large reception was held in The Temple to show how glad
were the hearts of his people that he was restored to them in health.

But it was not enough. The people of Philadelphia said, "This man
belongs to us." In all parts of the city, in all walks of life, were
men and women who had studied at Temple College, whose lives were
happier, more useful because of the knowledge they had gained there,
for whom he had opened these college doors. The Samaritan Hospital had
sent forth people by the hundreds whose bodies had been healed and
their spirits quickened because his kindly heart had foreseen their
need and his generous hands labored to help it. Everywhere throughout
the whole city was felt the leaven of his work, and the people as a
body said, "We will show our appreciation of the work he has done for
Philadelphia, we will show that we recognize him as one of the city's
greatest benefactors and philanthropists."

A committee of twenty-one citizens was formed, of which the Mayor,
Edwin S. Stuart, was chairman, and a reception was tendered Dr. and
Mrs. Conwell and the others of his party in the name of the citizens
of Philadelphia. It was given at the Academy of Fine Arts. With its
paintings and statuary, its broad sweeping staircases, it made a
magnificent setting for the throngs of men and women who crowded to
pay their respects to this man who had lived among them, doing good.

The line of waiting guests reached for two blocks and more and for
hours moved in steady procession before the receiving party. At last
the final farewell was said and on toward midnight Dr. Conwell stepped
into the carriage waiting to take him home.

But the affair was not over. The college boys felt that shaking hands
in formal fashion did not express sufficiently their loyalty and
devotion, their joy in the return of their beloved "Prex." They
unharnessed the horses, and with college cheers and yells triumphantly
drew their president all the way from the Academy of Fine Arts to his
home, a distance of two miles. As they passed Temple College, their
enthusiasm broke all bounds and they drew up the carriage at the
Doctor's residence, two blocks beyond the College, with a yell and a
flourish that fairly lifted the neighbors from their beds.

It was in every way a homecoming and a welcome that proved how
wide-reaching has been the work Dr. Conwell has done, how deeply it
has touched the lives of thousands of people in Philadelphia. This
spontaneous act of appreciation was but the tribute paid by grateful



Problems that Need Solving. The Need of Men Able to Solve Them.

"O do not pray for easy lives
Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for
Tasks equal to your powers. Pray
For powers equal to your tasks.
Then the doing of your work shall be
No miracle. But you shall be a miracle,
Every day you shall wonder at yourself,
At the richness of life that has come to you
By the Grace of God."

wrote that great preacher, Phillips Brooks.

The world does not want easy lives but strong men. Every age has its
problems. Every age needs men with clear moral vision, strong hands,
humane hearts to solve these problems. Character, not the fortune of
birth, qualifies for leadership in such a work. And such work ever
waits, the world over, to be done. In every large city of the country
are thousands crying for better education, the suffering poor are
holding up weak hands for help, men and women morally blind, are
asking for light to find Christ--the Christ of the Bible, not the
Christ of dogma and creed, religion pure and undefiled, the church in
the simplicity of the days of the apostles, the church that reaches
out a helping hand to all the needs of humanity.

Institutional churches are needed, not one, but many of them, in the
cities, churches that help men to grapple with the stern actualities
of everyday life, churches that preach by works as well as by word,
churches in which the man in fustian is as welcome as the one in
broadcloth, churches whose influence reaches into the highways and
byways and compels people to come in by the very cordiality and
kindness of the invitation, churches that help people to live better
and more happily in this world, while at the same time preparing them
for the world to come.

"In no other city in the country is there such an example of the
quickening force of a united and working church organization as
is given by the North Broad Street Temple, Philadelphia," says an
editorial writer in the Philadelphia "Press." "Twenty such churches
in this city of 1,250,000 people would do more to evangelize it and
re-awaken an interest in the vital truths of Christianity than the
hundreds of church organizations it now has. The world is demanding
more and better returns from the church for the time and money given
it. Real, practical Christian work is what is asked of the church. The
sooner it conforms to this demand, the more quickly it will regain
its old influence and be prepared to make effective its fight against

Hospitals are needed that heal in the name of Christ, that heal ills
of the body and at the same time by the spirit of love that permeates,
by the Christian spirit that animates all connected with them, cure
the ills of the soul and send the sufferers away rejoicing in spirit
as well as in body, with a brighter outlook on the world and increased
faith in humankind.

Colleges are needed the length and breadth of this land, wherever the
poor and ignorant sit in darkness. In every town of five thousand or
more, a college for working people on the lines of the Temple College
would be thronged with eager, rejoicing students. And the world is the
better for every man and woman raised to a higher plane of living. Any
life, no matter how sordid and narrow, how steeped in ignorance, if
swept sweet and clean by God's love, if awakened by ambition and then
given the opportunity to grow, can be changed into beauty, sweetness
and usefulness. And such work is worth while.

The way has been blazed, the path has been pointed out, it only
remains for those who follow after to walk therein. And if they walk
therein, they will gain that true greatness and deep happiness which
Phillips Brooks says comes ever "to the man who has given his life
to his race, who feels that what God gives him, He gives him for


Dr. Conwell's most famous lecture and one of his earliest has been
given at this writing (October, 1905) 3420 times. The income from it
if invested at regular rates of interest would have amounted very
nearly to one million dollars.


Is Dr. Conwell's latest lecture. It is a backward glance over his own
life in which he tells in his inimitable fashion many of its most
interesting scenes and incidents. It is here published for the first


[Footnote A: Reported by A. Russell Smith and Harry E. Greager.]

[Mr. Conwell's lectures are all delivered extemporaneously and differ
greatly from night to night.--Ed.]

I am astonished that so many people should care to hear this story
over again. Indeed, this lecture has become a study in psychology;
it often breaks all rules of oratory, departs from the precepts of
rhetoric, and yet remains the most popular of any lecture I have
delivered in the forty-four years of my public life. I have sometimes
studied for a year upon a lecture and made careful research, and then
presented the lecture just once--never delivered it again. I put too
much work on it. But this had no work on it--thrown together perfectly
at random, spoken offhand without any special preparation, and it
succeeds when the thing we study, work over, adjust to a plan is an
entire failure.

The "Acres of Diamonds" which I have mentioned through so many years
are to be found in Philadelphia, and you are to find them. Many have
found them. And what man has done, man can do. I could not find
anything better to illustrate my thought than a story I have told
over and over again, and which is now found in books in nearly every

In 1870 we went down the Tigris River. We hired a guide at Bagdad to
show us Persepolis, Nineveh and Babylon, and the ancient countries of
Assyria as far as the Arabian Gulf. He was well acquainted with the
land, but he was one of those guides who love to entertain their
patrons; he was like a barber that tells you many stories in order to
keep your mind off the scratching and the scraping. He told me so
many stories that I grew tired of his telling them and I refused to
listen--looked away whenever he commenced; that made the guide quite
angry, I remember that toward evening he took his Turkish cap off his
head and swung it around in the air. The gesture I did not understand
and I did not dare look at him for fear I should become the victim of
another story. But, although I am not a woman, I did look, and the
instant I turned my eyes upon that worthy guide he was off again. Said
he, "I will tell you a story now which I reserve for my particular
friends!" So then, counting myself a particular friend, I listened,
and I have always been glad I did.

He said there once lived not far from the River Indus an ancient
Persian by the name of Al Hafed. He said that Al Hafed owned a very
large farm with orchards, grain fields and gardens. He was a contented
and wealthy man--contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because
he was contented. One day there visited this old farmer one of those
ancient Buddhist priests, and he sat down by Al Hafed's fire and told
that old farmer how this world of ours was made. He said that this
world was once a mere bank of fog, which is scientifically true, and
he said that the Almighty thrust his finger into the bank of fog and
then began slowly to move his finger around and gradually to increase
the speed of his finger until at last he whirled that bank of fog
into a solid ball of fire, and it went rolling through the universe,
burning its way through other cosmic banks of fog, until it condensed
the moisture without, and fell in floods of rain upon the heated
surface and cooled the outward crust. Then the internal flames burst
through the cooling crust and threw up the mountains and made the
hills of the valley of this wonderful world of ours. If this internal
melted mass burst out and cooled very quickly it became granite; that
which cooled less quickly became silver; and less quickly, gold; and
after gold diamonds were made. Said the old priest, "A diamond is a
congealed drop of sunlight."

This is a scientific truth also. You all know that a diamond is pure
carbon, actually deposited sunlight--and he said another thing I would
not forget: he declared that a diamond is the last and highest of
God's mineral creations, as a woman is the last and highest of God's
animal creations. I suppose that is the reason why the two have such a
liking for each other. And the old priest told Al Hafed that if he had
a handful of diamonds he could purchase a whole county, and with a
mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the
influence of their great wealth. Al Hafed heard all about diamonds
and how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a
poor man--not that he had lost anything, but poor because he was
discontented and discontented because he thought he was poor. He said:
"I want a mine of diamonds!" So he lay awake all night, and early in
the morning sought out the priest. Now I know from experience that
a priest when awakened early in the morning is cross. He awoke that
priest out of his dreams and said to him, "Will you tell me where I
can find diamonds?" The priest said, "Diamonds? What do you want with
diamonds?" "I want to be immensely rich," said Al Hafed, "but I don't
know where to go." "Well," said the priest, "if you will find a river
that runs over white sand between high mountains, in those sands you
will always see diamonds." "Do you really believe that there is such a
river?" "Plenty of them, plenty of them; all you have to do is just go
and find them, then you have them." Al Hafed said, "I will go." So he
sold his farm, collected his money at interest, left his family in
charge of a neighbor, and away he went in search of diamonds. He began
very properly, to my mind, at the Mountains of the Moon. Afterwards he
went around into Palestine, then wandered on into Europe, and at last
when his money was all spent, and he was in rags, wretchedness and
poverty, he stood on the shore of that bay in Barcelona, Spain, when
a tidal wave came rolling in through the Pillars of Hercules and the
poor afflicted, suffering man could not resist the awful temptation to
cast himself into that incoming tide, and he sank beneath its foaming
crest, never to rise in this life again.

When that old guide had told me that very sad story, he stopped the
camel I was riding and went back to fix the baggage on one of the
other camels, and I remember thinking to myself, "Why did he reserve
that for his _particular friends_?" There seemed to be no beginning,
middle or end--nothing to it. That was the first story I ever heard
told or read in which the hero was killed in the first chapter. I had
but one chapter of that story and the hero was dead. When the guide
came back and took up the halter of my camel again, he went right on
with the same story. He said that Al Hafed's successor led his camel
out into the garden to drink, and as that camel put its nose down into
the clear water of the garden brook Al Hafed's successor noticed a
curious flash of light from the sands of the shallow stream, and
reaching in he pulled out a black stone having an eye of light that
reflected all the colors of the rainbow, and he took that curious
pebble into the house and left it on the mantel, then went on his way
and forgot all about it. A few days after that, this same old priest
who told Al Hafed how diamonds were made, came in to visit his
successor, when he saw that flash of light from the mantel. He rushed
up and said, "Here is a diamond--here is a diamond! Has Al Hafed
returned?" "No, no; Al Hafed has not returned and that is not a
diamond; that is nothing but a stone; we found it right out here in
our garden." "But I know a diamond when I see it," said he; "that is a

Then together they rushed to the garden and stirred up the white sands
with their fingers and found others more beautiful, more valuable
diamonds than the first, and thus, said the guide to me, were
discovered the diamond mines of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond
mines in all the history of mankind, exceeding the Kimberley in its
value. The great Kohinoor diamond in England's crown jewels and the
largest crown diamond on earth in Russia's crown jewels, which I had
often hoped she would have to sell before they had peace with Japan,
came from that mine, and when the old guide had called my attention to
that wonderful discovery he took his Turkish cap off his head again
and swung it around in the air to call my attention to the moral.
Those Arab guides have a moral to each story, though the stories are
not always moral. He said had Al Hafed remained at home and dug in his
own cellar or in his own garden, instead of wretchedness, starvation,
poverty and death in a strange land, he would have had "acres of
diamonds"--for every acre, yes, every shovelful of that old farm
afterwards revealed the gems which since have decorated the crowns of
monarchs. When he had given the moral to his story, I saw why he had
reserved this story for his "particular friends." I didn't tell him I
could see it; I was not going to tell that old Arab that I could see
it. For it was that mean old Arab's way of going around a thing, like
a lawyer, and saying indirectly what he did not dare say directly,
that there was a certain young man that day traveling down the Tigris
River that might better be at home in America. I didn't tell him I
could see it.

I told him his story reminded me of one, and I told it to him quick. I
told him about that man out in California, who, in 1847, owned a
ranch out there. He read that gold had been discovered in Southern
California, and he sold his ranch to Colonel Sutter and started off to
hunt for gold. Colonel Sutter put a mill on the little stream in
that farm and one day his little girl brought some wet sand from the
raceway of the mill into the house and placed it before the fire to
dry, and as that sand was falling through the little girl's fingers
a visitor saw the first shining scales of real gold that were ever
discovered in California; and the man who wanted the gold had sold
this ranch and gone away, never to return. I delivered this lecture
two years ago in California, in the city that stands near that farm,
and they told me that the mine is not exhausted yet, and that a
one-third owner of that farm has been getting during these recent
years twenty dollars of gold every fifteen minutes of his life,
sleeping or waking. Why, you and I would enjoy an income like that!

But the best illustration that I have now of this thought was found
here in Pennsylvania. There was a man living in Pennsylvania who
owned a farm here and he did what I should do if I had a farm in
Pennsylvania--he sold it. But before he sold it he concluded to secure
employment collecting coal oil for his cousin in Canada. They first
discovered coal oil there. So this farmer in Pennsylvania decided that
he would apply for a position with his cousin in Canada. Now, you see,
this farmer was not altogether a foolish man. He did net leave his
farm until he had something else to do. Of all the simpletons the
stars shine on there is none more foolish than a man who leaves one
job before he has obtained another. And that has especial reference to
gentlemen of my profession, and has no reference to a man seeking a
divorce. So I say this old farmer did not leave one job until he had
obtained another. He wrote to Canada, but his cousin replied that he
could not engage him because he did not know anything about the oil
business. "Well, then," said he, "I will understand it." So he set
himself at the study of the whole subject. He began at the second day
of the creation, he studied the subject from the primitive vegetation
to the coal oil stage, until he knew all about it. Then he wrote to
his cousin and said, "Now I understand the oil business." And his
cousin replied to him, "All right, then, come on." That man, by the
record of the county, sold his farm for eight hundred and thirty-three
dollars--even money, "no cents." He had scarcely gone from that farm
before the man who purchased it went out to arrange for the watering
the cattle and he found that the previous owner had arranged the
matter very nicely. There is a stream running down the hillside there,
and the previous owner had gone out and put a plank across that stream
at an angle, extending across the brook and down edgewise a few inches
under the surface of the water. The purpose of the plank across that
brook was to throw over to the other bank a dreadful-looking scum
through which the cattle would not put their noses to drink above the
plank, although they would drink the water on one side below it. Thus
that man who had gone to Canada had been himself damming back for
twenty-three years a flow of coal oil which the State Geologist of
Pennsylvania declared officially, as early as 1870, was then worth to
our State a hundred millions of dollars. The city of Titusville now
stands on that farm and those Pleasantville wells flow on, and that
farmer who had studied all about the formation of oil since the second
day of God's creation clear down to the present time, sold that farm
for $833, no cents--again I say "no sense."

But I need another illustration, and I found that in Massachusetts,
and I am sorry I did, because that is my old State. This young man I
mention went out of the State to study--went down to Yale College and
studied Mines and Mining. They paid him fifteen dollars a week during
his last year for training students who were behind their classes in
mineralogy, out of hours, of course, while pursuing his own studies.
But when he graduated they raised his pay from fifteen dollars to
forty-five dollars and offered him a professorship. Then he went
straight home to his mother and said, "Mother, I won't work for
forty-five dollars a week. What is forty-five dollars a week for a man
with a brain like mine! Mother, lets go out to California and stake
out gold claims and be immensely rich." "Now" said his mother, "it is
just as well to be happy as it is to be rich."

But as he was the only son he had his way--they always do; and they
sold out in Massachusetts and went to Wisconsin, where he went into
the employ of the Superior Copper Mining Company, and he was lost from
sight in the employ of that company at fifteen dollars a week again.
He was also to have an interest in any mines that he should discover
for that company. But I do not believe that he has ever discovered a
mine--I do not know anything about it, but I do not believe he has. I
know he had scarcely gone from the old homestead before the farmer
who had bought the homestead went out to dig potatoes, and as he was
bringing them in in a large basket through the front gateway, the ends
of the stone wall came so near together at the gate that the basket
hugged very tight. So he set the basket on the ground and pulled,
first on one side and then on the other side. Our farms in
Massachusetts are mostly stone walls, and the farmers have to be
economical with their gateways in order to have some place to put the
stones. That basket hugged so tight there that as he was hauling it
through he noticed in the upper stone next the gate a block of native
silver, eight inches square; and this professor of mines and mining
and mineralogy, who would not work for forty-five dollars a week, when
he sold that homestead in Massachusetts, sat right on that stone to
make the bargain. He was brought up there; he had gone back and forth
by that piece of silver, rubbed it with his sleeve, and it seemed to
say, "Come now, now, now, here is a hundred thousand dollars. Why
not take me?" But he would not take it. There was no silver in
Newburyport; it was all away off--well, I don't know where; he didn't,
but somewhere else--and he was a professor of mineralogy.

I do not know of anything I would enjoy better than to take the whole
time to-night telling of blunders like that I have heard professors
make. Yet I wish I knew what that man is doing out there in Wisconsin.
I can imagine him out there, as he sits by his fireside, and he is
saying to his friends, "Do you know that man Conwell that lives in
Philadelphia?" "Oh, yes, I have heard of him." "And do you know that
man. Jones that lives in that city?" "Yes, I have heard of him." And
then he begins to laugh and laugh and says to his friends, "They have
done the same thing I did, precisely." And that spoils the whole joke,
because you and I have done it.

Ninety out of every hundred people here have made that mistake this
very day. I say you ought to be rich; you have no right to be poor. To
live in Philadelphia and not be rich is a misfortune, and it is doubly
a misfortune, because you could have been rich just as well as be
poor. Philadelphia furnishes so many opportunities. You ought to be
rich. But persons with certain religious prejudice will ask, "How can
you spend your time advising the rising generation to give their time
to getting money--dollars and cents--the commercial spirit?" Yet I
must say that you ought to spend time getting rich. You and I know
there are some things more valuable than money; of course, we do. Ah,
yes! By a heart made unspeakably sad by a grave on which the autumn
leaves now fall, I know there are some things higher and grander and
sublimer than money. Well does the man know, who has suffered, that
there are some things sweeter and holier and more sacred than gold.
Nevertheless, the man of common sense also knows that there is not any
one of those things that is not greatly enhanced by the use of money.
Money is power. Love is the grandest thing on God's earth, but
fortunate the lover who has plenty of money. Money is power; money has
powers; and for a man to say, "I do not want money," is to say, "I do
not wish to do any good to my fellowmen." It is absurd thus to talk.
It is absurd to disconnect them. This is a wonderfully great life, and
you ought to spend your time getting money, because of the power there
is in money. And yet this religious prejudice is so great that some
people think it is a great honor to be one of God's poor. I am looking
in the faces of people who think just that way. I heard a man once
say in a prayer meeting that he was thankful that he was one of God's
poor, and then I silently wondered what his wife would say to that
speech, as she took in washing to support the man while he sat and
smoked on the veranda. I don't want to see any more of that kind of
God's poor. Now, when a man could have been rich just as well, and he
is now weak because he is poor, he has done some great wrong; he has
been untruthful to himself; he has been unkind to his fellowmen. We
ought to get rich if we can by honorable and Christian methods, and
these are the only methods that sweep us quickly toward the goal of

I remember, not many years ago a young theological student who came
into my office and said to me that he thought it was his duty to come
in and "labor with me." I asked him what had happened, and he said: "I
feel it is my duty to come in and speak to you, sir, and say that the
Holy Scriptures declare that money is the root of all evil." I asked
him where he found that saying, and he said he found it in the Bible.
I asked him whether he had made a new Bible, and he said, no, he had
not gotten a new Bible, that it was in the old Bible. "Well," I
said, "if it is in my Bible, I never saw it. Will you please get the
text-book and let me see it?" He left the room and soon came stalking
in with his Bible open, with all the bigoted pride of the narrow
sectarian, who founds his creed on some misinterpretation of
Scripture, and he puts the Bible down on the table before me and
fairly squealed into my ear, "There it is. You can read it for
yourself." I said to him, "Young man, you will learn, when you get a
little older, that you cannot trust another denomination to read the
Bible for you." I said, "Now, you belong to another denomination.
Please read it to me, and remember that you are taught in a school
where emphasis is exegesis." So he took the Bible and read it: "The
_love_ of money is the root of all evil." Then he had it right. The
Great Book has come back into the esteem and love of the people, and
into the respect of the greatest minds of earth, and now you can quote
it and rest your life and your death on it without more fear. So, when
he quoted right from the Scriptures he quoted the truth. "The love of
money is the root of all evil." Oh, that is it. It is the worship of
the means instead of the end, though you cannot reach the end without
the means. When a man makes an idol of the money instead of the
purposes for which it may be used, when he squeezes the dollar until
the eagle squeals, then it is made the root of all evil. Think, if you
only had the money, what you could do for your wife, your child, and
for your home and your city. Think how soon you could endow the Temple
College yonder if you only had the money and the disposition to give
it; and yet, my friend, people say you and I should not spend the time
getting rich. How inconsistent the whole thing is. We ought to be
rich, because money has power. I think the best thing for me to do is
to illustrate this, for if I say you ought to get rich, I ought, at
least, to suggest how it is done. We get a prejudice against rich men
because of the lies that are told about them. The lies that are told
about Mr. Rockefeller because he has two hundred million dollars--so
many believe them; yet how false is the representation of that man
to the world. How little we can tell what is true nowadays when
newspapers try to sell their papers entirely on some sensation! The
way they lie about the rich men is something terrible, and I do not
know that there is anything to illustrate this better than what the
newspapers now say about the city of Philadelphia. A young man came
to me the other day and said, "If Mr. Rockefeller, as you think, is a
good man, why is it that everybody says so much against him?" It is
because he has gotten ahead of us; that is the whole of it--just
gotten ahead of us. Why is it Mr. Carnegie is criticised so sharply by
an envious world? Because he has gotten more than we have. If a man
knows more than I know, don't I incline to criticise somewhat his
learning? Let a man, stand in a pulpit and preach to thousands, and if
I have fifteen people in my church, and they're all asleep, don't I
criticise him? We always do that to the man who gets ahead of us. Why,
the man you are criticising has one hundred millions, and you have
fifty cents, and both of you have just what you are worth. One of
the richest men in this country came into my home and sat down in my
parlor and said: "Did you see all those lies about my family in the
paper?" "Certainly I did; I knew they were lies when I saw them." "Why
do they lie about me the way they do?" "Well", I said to him, "if you
will give me your check for one hundred millions, I will take all the
lies along with it" "Well," said he, "I don't see any sense in their
thus talking about my family and myself. Conwell, tell me frankly,
what do you think the American people think of me?" "Well," said I,
"they think you are the blackest-hearted villain that ever trod the
soil!" "But what can I do about it?" There is nothing he can do about
it, and yet he is one of the sweetest Christian men I ever knew. If
you get a hundred millions you will have the lies; you will be lied
about, and you can judge your success in any line by the lies that are
told about you. I say that you ought to be rich. But there are ever
coming to me young men who say, "I would like to go into business,
but I cannot." "Why not?" "Because I have no capital to begin on."
Capital, capital to begin on! What! young man! Living in Philadelphia
and looking at this wealthy generation, all of whom began as poor
boys, and you want capital to begin on? It is fortunate for you that
you have no capital. I am glad you have no money. I pity a rich man's
son. A rich man's son in these days of ours occupies a very difficult
position. They are to be pitied. A rich man's son cannot know the very
best things in human life. He cannot. The statistics of Massachusetts
show us that not one out of seventeen rich men's sons ever die rich.
They are raised in luxury, they die in poverty. Even if a rich man's
son retains his father's money even then he cannot know the best
things of life.

A young man in our college yonder asked me to formulate for him what
I thought was the happiest hour in a man's history, and I studied it
long and came back convinced that the happiest hour that any man ever
sees in any earthly matter is when a young man takes his bride over
the threshold of the door, for the first time, of the house he himself
has earned and built, when he turns to his bride and with an eloquence
greater than any language of mine, he sayeth to his wife, "My loved
one, I earned this home myself; I earned it all. It is all mine, and
I divide it with thee." That is the grandest moment a human heart may
ever see. But a rich man's son cannot know that. He goes into a finer
mansion, it may be, but he is obliged to go through the house and say,
"Mother gave me this, mother gave me that, my mother gave me that,
my mother gave me that," until his wife wishes she had married his
mother. Oh, I pity a rich man's son. I do. Until he gets so far along
in his dudeism that he gets his arms up like that and can't get them
down. Didn't you ever see any of them astray at Atlantic City? I saw
one of these scarecrows once and I never tire thinking about it. I was
at Niagara Falls lecturing, and after the lecture I went to the hotel,
and when I went up to the desk there stood there a millionaire's son
from New York. He was an indescribable specimen of anthropologic
potency. He carried a gold-headed cane under his arm--more in its head
than he had in his. I do not believe I could describe the young man if
I should try. But still I must say that he wore an eye-glass he could
not see through; patent leather shoes he could not walk in, and pants
he could not sit down in--dressed like a grasshopper! Well, this human
cricket came up to the clerk's desk just as I came in. He adjusted his
unseeing eye-glass in this wise and lisped to the clerk, because it's
"Hinglish, you know," to lisp: "Thir, thir, will you have the kindness
to fuhnish me with thome papah and thome envelopehs!" The clerk
measured that man quick, and he pulled out a drawer and took some
envelopes and paper and cast them across the counter and turned away
to his books. You should have seen that specimen of humanity when the
paper and envelopes came across the counter--he whose wants had always
been anticipated by servants. He adjusted his unseeing eye-glass and
he yelled after that clerk: "Come back here thir, come right back
here. Now, thir, will you order a thervant to take that papah and
thothe envelopes and carry them to yondah dethk." Oh, the poor
miserable, contemptible American monkey! He couldn't carry paper and
envelopes twenty feet. I suppose he could not get his arms down. I
have no pity for such travesties of human nature. If you have no
capital, I am glad of it You don't need capital; you need common
sense, not copper cents.

A.T. Stewart, the great princely merchant of New York, the richest man
in America in his time, was a poor boy; he had a dollar and a half and
went into the mercantile business. But he lost eighty-seven and a half
cents of his first dollar and a half because he bought some needles
and thread and buttons to sell, which people didn't want. Are you
poor? It is because you are not wanted and are left on your own hands.
There was the great lesson. Apply it whichever way you will it comes
to every single person's life, young or old. He did not know what
people needed, and consequently bought something they didn't want, and
had the goods left on his hands a dead loss. A.T. Stewart earned there
the great lesson of his mercantile life and said, "I will never buy
anything more until I first learn what the people want; then I'll make
the purchase." He went around to the doors and asked them what they
did want, and when he found out what they wanted, he invested his
sixty-two and a hall cents and began to supply "a known demand." I
care not what your profession or occupation in life may be; I care not
whether you are a lawyer, a doctor, a housekeeper, teacher or whatever
else, the principle is precisely the same. We must know what the world
needs first and then invest ourselves to supply that need, and success
is almost certain. A.T. Stewart went on until he was worth forty
millions. "Well," you will say, "a man can do that in New York, but
cannot do it here in Philadelphia." The statistics very carefully
gathered in New York in 1889 showed one hundred and seven millionaires
in the city worth over ten millions apiece. It was remarkable and
people think they must go there to get rich. Out of that one hundred
and seven millionaires only seven of them made their money in New
York, and the others moved to New York after their fortunes were made,
and sixty-seven out of the remaining hundred made their fortunes in
towns of less than six thousand people, and the richest man in
the country at that time lived in a town of thirty-five hundred
inhabitants, and always lived there and never moved away. It is not
so much where you are as what you are. But at the same time if the
largeness of the city comes into the problem, then remember it is the
smaller city that furnishes the great opportunity to make the millions
of money. The best illustration that I can give is in reference to
John Jacob Astor, who was a poor boy and who made all the money of the
Astor family. He made more than his successors have ever earned, and
yet he once held a mortgage on a millinery store in New York, and
because the people could not make enough money to pay the interest and
the rent, he foreclosed the mortgage and took possession of the store
and went into partnership with the man who had failed. He kept the
same stock did not give them a dollar of capital, and he left them
alone and went out and sat down upon a bench in the park. Out there on
that bench in the park he had the most important, and to my mind, the
pleasantest part of that partnership business. He was watching the
ladies as they went by; and where is the man that wouldn't get rich
at that business? But when John Jacob Astor saw a lady pass, with her
shoulders back and her head up, as if she did not care if the whole
world looked on her, he studied her bonnet; and before that bonnet
was out of sight he knew the shape of the frame and the color of the
trimmings, the curl of the--something on a bonnet Sometimes I try to
describe a woman's bonnet, but it is of little use, for it would be
out of style to-morrow night. So John Jacob Astor went to the store
and said: "Now, put in the show window just such a bonnet as I
describe to you because," said he, "I have just seen a lady who likes
just such a bonnet. Do not make up any more till I come back." And he
went out again and sat on that bench in the park, and another lady of
a different form and complexion passed him with a bonnet of different
shape and color, of course. "Now," said he, "put such a bonnet as that
in the show window." He didn't fill his show window with hats and
bonnets which drive people away and then sit in the back of the store
and bawl because the people go somewhere else to trade. He didn't put
a hat or bonnet in that show window the like of which he had not seen
before it was made up.

In our city especially there are great opportunities for
manufacturing, and the time has come when the line is drawn very
sharply between the stockholders of the factory and their employes.
Now, friends, there has also come a discouraging gloom upon this
country and the laboring men are beginning to feel that they are being
held down by a crust over their heads through which they find it
impossible to break, and the aristocratic money-owner himself is so
far above that he will never descend to their assistance. That is the
thought that is in the minds of our people. But, friends, never in the
history of our country was there an opportunity so great for the poor
man to get rich as there is now and in the city of Philadelphia. The
very fact that they get discouraged is what prevents them from getting
rich. That is all there is to it. The road is open, and let us keep it
open between the poor and the rich. I know that the labor unions have
two great problems to contend with, and there is only one way to solve
them. The labor unions are doing as much to prevent its solving as are
the capitalists to-day, and there are positively two sides to it. The
labor union has two difficulties; the first one is that it began to
make a labor scale for all classes on a par, and they scale down a man
that can earn five dollars a day to two and a half a day, in order to
level up to him an imbecile that cannot earn fifty cents a day. That
is one of the most dangerous and discouraging things for the working
man. He cannot get the results of his work if he do better work or
higher work or work longer; that is a dangerous thing, and in order to
get every laboring man free and every American equal to every other
American, let the laboring man ask what he is worth and get it--not
let any capitalist say to him: "You shall work for me for half of what
you are worth;" nor let any labor organization say: "You shall work for
the capitalist for half your worth." Be a man, be independent, and
then shall the laboring man find the road ever open from poverty to
wealth. The other difficulty that the labor union has to consider, and
this problem they have to solve themselves, is the kind of orators who
come and talk to them about the oppressive rich. I can in my
dreams recite the oration I have heard again and again under such
circumstances. My life has been with the laboring man. I am a laboring
man myself. I have often, in their assemblies, heard the speech of the
man who has been invited to address the labor union. The man gets up
before the assembled company of honest laboring men and he begins by
saying: "Oh, ye honest, industrious laboring men, who have furnished
all the capital of the world, who have built all the palaces and
constructed all the railroads and covered the ocean with her
steamships. Oh, you laboring men! You are nothing but slaves; you are
ground down in the dust by the capitalist who is gloating over you as
he enjoys his beautiful estates and as he has his banks filled with
gold, and every dollar he owns is coined out of the hearts' blood of
the honest laboring man." Now, that is a lie, and you know it is a
lie; and yet that is the kind of speech that they are all the time
hearing, representing the capitalists as wicked and the laboring men
so enslaved. Why, how wrong it is! Let the man who loves his flag and
believes in American principles endeavor with all his soul to bring
the capitalist and the laboring man together until they stand side by
side, and arm in arm, and work for the common good of humanity.

He is an enemy to his country who sets capital against labor or labor
against capital.

Suppose I were to go down through this audience and ask you to
introduce me to the great inventors who live here in Philadelphia.
"The inventors of Philadelphia," you would say "Why we don't have any
in Philadelphia. It is too slow to invent anything." But you do have
just as great inventors, and they are here in this audience, as ever
invented a machine. But the probability is that the greatest inventor
to benefit the world with his discovery is some person, perhaps some
lady, who thinks she could not invent anything. Did you ever study the
history of invention and see how strange it was that the man who made
the greatest discovery did it without any previous idea that he was an
inventor? Who are the great inventors? They are persons with plain,
straightforward common sense, who saw a need in the world and
immediately applied themselves to supply that need. If you want to
invent anything, don't try to find it in the wheels in your head nor
the wheels in your machine, but first find out what the people need,
and then apply yourself to that need, and this leads to invention on
the part of people you would not dream of before. The great inventors
are simply great men; the greater the man the more simple the man; and
the more simple a machine, the more valuable it is. Did you ever know
a really great man? His ways are so simple, so common, so plain, that
you think any one could do what he is doing. So it is with the great
men the world over. If you know a really great man, a neighbor of
yours, you can go right up to him and say, "How are you, Jim, good
morning, Sam." Of course you can, for they are always so simple.

When I wrote the life of General Garfield, one of his neighbors took
me to his back door, and shouted, "Jim, Jim, Jim!" and very soon "Jim"
came to the door and General Garfield let me in--one of the grandest
men of our century. The great men of the world are ever so. I was down
in Virginia and went up to an educational institution and was directed
to a man who was setting out a tree. I approached him and said, "Do
you think it would be possible for me to see General Robert B. Lee,
the President of the University?" He said, "Sir, I am General Lee."
Of course, when you meet such a man, so noble a man as that, you will
find him a simple, plain man. Greatness is always just so modest and
great inventions are simple.

I asked a class in school once who were the great inventors, and a
little girl popped up and said, "Columbus." Well, now, she was not so
far wrong. Columbus bought a farm and he carried on that farm just as
I carried on my father's farm. He took a hoe and went out and sat down
on a rock. But Columbus, as he sat upon that shore and looked out upon
the ocean, noticed that the ships, as they sailed away, sank deeper
into the sea the farther they went. And since that time some other
"Spanish ships" have sunk into the sea. But as Columbus noticed that
the tops of the masts dropped down out of sight, he said: "That is the
way it is with this hoe handle; if you go around this hoe handle, the
farther off you go the farther down you go. I can sail around to the
East Indies." How plain it all was. How simple the mind--majestic
like the simplicity of a mountain in its greatness. Who are the great
inventors? They are ever the simple, plain, everyday people who see
the need and set about to supply it.

I was once lecturing in North Carolina, and the cashier of the bank
sat directly behind a lady who wore a very large hat. I said to that
audience, "Your wealth is too near to you; you are looking right over
it." He whispered to his friend, "Well, then, my wealth is in that
hat." A little later, as he wrote me, I said, "Wherever there is a
human need there is a greater fortune than a mine can furnish." He
caught my thought, and he drew up his plan for a better hat pin than
was in the hat before him, and the pin is now being manufactured. He
was offered fifty-five thousand dollars for his patent. That man
made his fortune before he got out of that hall. This is the whole
question: Do you see a need?

I remember well a man up in my native hills, a poor man, who for
twenty years was helped by the town in his poverty, who owned a
wide-spreading maple tree that covered the poor man's cottage like
a benediction from on high. I remember that tree, for in the
spring--there were some roguish boys around that neighborhood when I
was young--in the spring of the year the man would put a bucket there
and the spouts to catch the maple sap, and I remember where that
bucket was; and when I was young the boys were, oh, so mean, that
they went to that tree before than man had gotten out of bed in the
morning, and after he had gone to bed at night, and drank up that
sweet sap. I could swear they did it. He didn't make a great deal of
maple sugar from that tree. But one day he made the sugar so white
and crystaline that the visitor did not believe it was maple sugar;
thought maple sugar must be red or black. He said to the old man: "Why
don't you make it that way and sell it for confectionary?" The old man
caught his thought and invented the "rock maple crystal," and before
that patent expired he had ninety thousand dollars and had built a
beautiful palace on the site of that tree. After forty years owning
that tree he awoke to find it had fortunes of money indeed in it. And
many of us are right by the tree that has a fortune for us, and we own
it, possess it, do what we will with it, but we do not learn its value
because we do not see the human need, and in these discoveries, and
inventions this is one of the most romantic things of life.

I have received letters from all over the country and from England,
where I have lectured, saying that they have discovered this and that,
and one man out in Ohio took me through his great factories last
spring, and said that they cost him $680,000, and said he, "I was
not worth a cent in the world when I heard your lecture "Acres of
Diamonds"; but I made up my mind to stop right here and make my
fortune here, and here it is." He showed me through his unmortgaged
possessions. And this is a continual experience now as I travel
through the country, after these many years. I mention this incident,
not to boast, but to show you that you can do the same if you will.

Who are the great inventors? I remember a good illustration in a man
who used to live in East Brookfield, Mass. He was a shoemaker, and he
was out of work, and he sat around the house until his wife told him
"to go out doors." And he did what every husband is compelled by law
to do--he obeyed his wife. And he went out and sat down on an ash
barrel in his back yard. Think of it! Stranded on an ash barrel and
the enemy in possession of the house! As he sat on that ash barrel, he
looked down into that little brook which ran through that back yard
into the meadows, and he saw a little trout go flashing up the stream
and hiding under the bank. I do not suppose he thought of Tennyson's
beautiful poem:

"Chatter, chatter, as I flow,
To join the brimming river,
Men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever."

But as this man looked into the brook, he leaped off that ash barrel
and managed to catch the trout with his fingers, and sent it to
Worcester. They wrote back that they would give him a five dollar bill
for another such trout as that, not that it was worth that much, but
he wished to help the poor man. So this shoemaker and his wife, now
perfectly united, that five dollar bill in prospect went out to get
another trout They went up the stream to its source and down to the
brimming river, but not another trout could they find in the whole
stream; and so they came home disconsolate and went to the minister.
The minister didn't know how trout grew, but he pointed the way. Said
he, "Get Seth Green's book, and that will give you the information you
want." They did so, and found all about the culture of trout. They
found that a trout lays thirty-six hundred eggs every year and every
trout gains a quarter of a pound every year, so that in four years a
little trout will furnish four tons per annum to sell to the market
at fifty cents a pound. When they found that, they said they didn't
believe any such story as that, but if they could get five dollars a
piece they could make something. And right in that same back yard with
the coal sifter up stream and window screen down the stream, they
began the culture of trout. They afterwards moved to the Hudson, and
since then he has become the authority in the United States upon the
raising of fish, and he has been next to the highest on the United
States Fish Commission in Washington. My lesson is that man's wealth
was out there in his back yard for twenty years, but he didn't see it
until his wife drove him out with a mop stick.

I remember meeting personally a poor carpenter of Hingham,
Massachusetts, who was out of work and in poverty. His wife also drove
him out of doors. He sat down on the shore and whittled a soaked
shingle into a wooden chain. His children quarreled over it in the
evening, and while he was whittling a second one, a neighbor came
along and said, "Why don't you whittle toys if you can carve like
that?" He said, "I don't know what to make!" There is the whole thing.
His neighbor said to him: "Why don't you ask your own children?" Said
he, "What is the use of doing that? My children are different from
other people's children." I used to see people like that when I taught
school. The next morning when his boy came down the stairway, he said,
"Sam, what do you want for a toy?" "I want a wheel-barrow." When his
little girl came down he asked her what she wanted, and she said, "I
want a little doll's washstand, a little doll's carriage, a little
doll's umbrella," and went on with a whole lot of things that would
have taken his lifetime to supply. He consulted his own children right
there in his own house and began to whittle out toys to please them.
He began with his jack-knife, and made those unpainted Hingham toys.
He is the richest man in the entire New England States, if Mr. Lawson
is to be trusted in his statement concerning such things, and yet
that man's fortune was made by consulting his own children in his own
house. You don't need to go out of your own house to find out what to
invent or what to make. I always talk too long on this subject.

I would like to meet the great men who are here to-night. The great
men! We don't have any great men in Philadelphia. Great men! You
say that they all come from London, or San Francisco, or Rome,
or Manayunk, or anywhere else but here--anywhere else but
Philadelphia--and yet, in fact, there are just as great men in
Philadelphia as in any city of its size. There are great men and women
in this audience. Great men, I have said, are very simple men. Just as
many great men here as are to be found anywhere. The greatest error in
judging great men is that we think that they always hold an office.
The world knows nothing of its greatest men. Who are the great men of
the world? The young man and young woman may well ask the question. It
is not necessary that they should hold an office, and yet that is the
popular idea. That is the idea we teach now in our high schools and
common schools, that the great men of the world are those who hold
some high office, and unless we change that very soon and do away
with that prejudice, we are going to change to an empire. There is
no question about it. We must teach that men are great only on their
intrinsic value, and not on the position that they may incidentally
happen to occupy. And yet, don't blame the young men saying that they
are going to be great when they get into some official position. I ask
this audience again who of you are going to be great? Says a young
man: "I am going to be great" "When are you going to be great?" "When
I am elected to some political office," Won't you learn the lesson,
young man; that it is _prima facie_ evidence of littleness to hold
public office under our form of government? Think of it. This is a
government of the people, and by the people, and for the people, and
not for the office-holder, and if the people in this country rule as
they always should rule, an officeholder is only the servant of the
people, and the Bible says that "the servant cannot be greater than
his master," The Bible says that "he that is sent cannot be greater
than him who sent him." In this country the people are the masters,
and the office-holders can never be greater than the people; they
should be honest servants of the people, but they are not our greatest
men. Young man, remember that you never heard of a great man holding
any political office in this country unless he took that office at an
expense to himself. It is a loss to every great man to take a public
office in our country. Bear this in mind, young man, that you cannot
be made great by a political election. Another young man says, "I am
going to be a great man in Philadelphia some time." "Is that so? When
are you going to be great?" "When there comes another war! When we get
into difficulty with Mexico, or England, or Russia, or Japan, or with
Spain again over Cuba, or with New Jersey, I will march up to the
cannon's mouth, and amid the glistening bayonets I will tear down
their flag from its staff, and I will come home with stars on my
shoulders, and hold every office in the gift of the government, and I
will be great." "No, you won't! No, you won't; that is no evidence
of true greatness, young man." But don't blame that young man for
thinking that way; that is the way he is taught in the high school.
That is the way history is taught in college. He is taught that the
men who held the office did all the fighting.

I remember we had a Peace Jubilee here in Philadelphia soon after the
Spanish war. Perhaps some of those visitors think we should not have
had it until now in Philadelphia, and as the great procession was
going up Broad street I was told that the tally-ho coach stopped right
in front of my house, and on the coach was Hobson, and all the people
threw up their hats and swung their handkerchiefs, and shouted "Hurrah
for Hobson!" I would have yelled too, because he deserves much more of
his country than he has ever received. But suppose I go into the High
School to-morrow and ask, "Boys, who sunk the Merrimac?" If they
answer me "Hobson," they tell me seven-eighths of a lie--seven-eighths
of a lie, because there were eight men who sunk the Merrimac. The
other seven men, by virtue of their position, were continually exposed
to the Spanish fire, while Hobson, as an officer, might reasonably be
behind the smoke-stack. Why, my friends, in this intelligent audience
gathered here to-night I do not believe I could find a single person
that can name the other seven men who were with Hobson. Why do we
teach history in that way? We ought to teach that however humble the
station a man may occupy, if he does his full duty in his place, he is
just as much entitled to the American peopled honor as is a king upon
a throne. We do teach it as a mother did her little boy in Now York
when he said, "Mamma, what great building is that?" "That is General
Grant's tomb." "Who was General Grant?" "He was the man who put down
the rebellion." Is that the way to teach history?

Do you think we would have gained a victory if it had depended on
General Grant alone? Oh, no. Then why is there a tomb on the Hudson at
all? Why, not simply because General Grant was personally a great man
himself, but that tomb is there because he was a representative man
and represented two hundred thousand men who went down to death for
their nation and many of them as great as General Grant. That is why
that beautiful tomb stands on the heights over the Hudson.

I remember an incident that will illustrate this, the only one that I
can give to-night. I am ashamed of it, but I don't dare leave it out.
I close my eyes now; I look back through the years to 1863; I can see
my native town in the Berkshire Hills, I can see that cattle-show
ground filled with people; I can see the church there and the town
hall crowded, and hear bands playing, and see flags flying and
handkerchiefs steaming--well do I recall at this moment that day.
The people had turned out to receive a company of soldiers, and that
company came marching up on the Common. They had served out one term
in the Civil War and had re-enlisted, and they were being received
by their native townsmen. I was but a boy, but I was captain of that
company, puffed out with pride on that day--why, a cambric needle
would have burst me all to pieces. As I marched on the Common at the
head of my company, there was not a man more proud than I. We marched
into the town hall and then they seated my soldiers down in the center
of the house and I took my place down on the front seat, and then the
town officers filed through the great throng of people, who stood
close and packed in that little hall. They came up on the platform,
formed a half circle around it, and the mayor of the town, the
"chairman of the Select men" in Kew England, took his seat in the
middle of that half circle, He was an old man, his hair was gray; he
never held an office before in his life. He thought that an office was
all he needed to be a truly great man, and when he came up he adjusted
his powerful spectacles and glanced calmly around the audience with
amazing dignity. Suddenly his eyes fell upon me, and then the good old
man came right forward and invited me to come up on the stand with the
town officers. Invited me up on the stand! No town officer ever took
notice of me before I went to war. Now, I should not say that. One
town officer was there who advised the teacher to "whale" me, but I
mean no "honorable mention." So I was invited up on the stand with the
town officers. I took my seat and let my sword fall on the floor, and
folded my arms across my breast and waited to be received. Napoleon
the Fifth! Pride goeth before destruction and a fall. When I had
gotten my seat and all became silent through the hall, the chairman of
the Select men arose and came forward with great dignity to the table,
and we all supposed he would introduce the Congregational minister,
who was the only orator in the town, and who would give the oration
to the returning soldiers. But, friends, you should have seen the
surprise that ran over that audience when they discovered that this
old farmer was going to deliver that oration himself. He had never
made a speech in his life before, but he fell into the same error that
others have fallen into, he seemed to think that the office would make
him an orator. So he had written out a speech and walked up and down
the pasture until he had learned it by heart and frightened the
cattle, and he brought that manuscript with him, and taking it from
his pocket, he spread it carefully upon the table. Then he adjusted
his spectacles to be sure that he might see it, and walked far back on
the platform and then stepped forward like this. He must have studied
the subject much, for he assumed an elocutionary attitude; he rested
heavily upon his left heel, slightly advanced the right foot, threw
back his shoulders, opened the organs of speech, and advanced his
right hand at an angle of forty-five. As he stood in that elocutionary
attitude this is just the way that speech went, this is it precisely.
Some of my friends have asked me if I do not exaggerate it, but I
could not exaggerate it. Impossible! This is the way it went; although
I am not here for the story but the lesson that is back of it:

"Fellow citizens." As soon as he heard his voice, his hand began to
shake like that, his knees began to tremble, and then he shook all
over. He coughed and choked and finally came around to look at his
manuscript. Then he began again: "Fellow citizens: We--are--we are--we
are--we are--We are very happy--we are very happy--we are very
happy--to welcome back to their native town these soldiers who have
fought and bled--and come back again to their native town. We are
especially--we are especially--we are especially--we are especially
pleased to see with us to-day this young hero (that meant me)--this
young hero who in imagination (friends, remember, he said
"imagination," for if he had not said that, I would not be egotistical
enough to refer to it)--this young hero who, in imagination, we have
seen leading his troops--leading--we have seen leading--we have
seen leading his troops on to the deadly breach. We have seen his
shining--his shining--we have seen his shining--we have seen his
shining--his shining sword--flashing in the sunlight as he shouted to
his troops, 'Come on!'"

Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear! How little that good, old man knew about
war. If he had known anything about war, he ought to have known what
any soldier in this audience knows is true, that it is next to a crime
for an officer of infantry ever in time of danger to go ahead of his
men. I, with my shining sword flashing in the sunlight, shouting to my
troops: "Come on." I never did it. Do you suppose I would go ahead of
my men to be shot in the front by the enemy and in the back by my own
men? That is no place for an officer. The place for the officer is
behind the private soldier in actual fighting. How often, as a staff
officer, I rode down the line when the Rebel cry and yell was coming
out of the woods, sweeping along over the fields, and shouted,
"Officers to the rear! Officers to the rear!" and then every officer
goes behind the line of battle, and the higher the officer's rank,
the farther behind he goes. Not because he is any the less brave, but
because the laws of war require that to be done. If the general came
up on the front line and were killed you would lose your battle
anyhow, because he has the plan of the battle in his brain, and must
be kept in comparative safety. I, with my "shining sword flashing in
the sunlight." Ah! There sat in the hall that day men who had given
that boy their last hardtack, who had carried him on their backs
through deep rivers. But some were not there; they had gone down to
death for their country. The speaker mentioned them, but they were but
little noticed, and yet they had gone down to death for their country,
gone down for a cause they believed was right and still believe was
right, though I grant to the other side the same that I ask for
myself. Yet these men who had actually died for their country were
little noticed, and the hero of the hour was this boy. Why was he the
hero? Simply because that man fell into that same foolishness. This
boy was an officer, and those were only private soldiers. I learned
a lesson that I will never forget. Greatness consists not in holding
some office; greatness really consists in doing some great deed with
little means, in the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private
ranks of life; that is true greatness. He who can give to this people
better streets, better homes, better schools, better churches, more
religion, more of happiness, more of God, he that can be a blessing to
the community in which he lives to-night will be great anywhere, but
he who cannot be a blessing where he now lives will never be great
anywhere on the face of God's earth. "We live in deeds, not years, in
feeling, not in figures on a dial; in thoughts, not breaths; we should
count time by heart throbs, in the cause of right." Bailey says: "He
most lives who thinks most."

If you forget everything I have said to you, do not forget this,
because it contains more in two lines than all I have said. Bailey
says: "He most lives who thinks most, who feels the noblest, and who
acts the best."


[Footnote A: Stenographic report by A. Russell Smith, Sec'y.]

When I had been lecturing forty years, which is now four years ago,
the Lecture Bureau suggested that before I retire from the public
platform, that I should prepare one subject and deliver it through the
country. For I had told the Bureau thirty years ago that when I had
lectured forty years, I would retire. They therefore suggested a talk
on this topic, "Personal Glimpses of Celebrated Men and Women." But a
death in our family which destroyed the homeness of our house produced
such an effect upon us that after the forty years came we found that
we would rather wander than stay at home, and consequently we are
traveling still, and will do so until the end. This explanation will
show why many of these things are said. For I must necessarily bring
myself often into this topic, sometimes unpleasantly to myself. Mark
Twain says, that the trouble with an old man is that he "remembers so
many things that ain't so," and with Mark Twain's caution in my ears,
I will try to give you these "Personal Glimpses of Celebrated Men and

I do not claim to be a very intimate friend of great men. But a fly
may look at an elephant, and for this reason we may glance at the
great men and women whom I have seen through the many years of public
life. Sometimes those glimpses give us a better idea of the real man
or woman than an entire biography written while he was living would
do; and to-night as a grandfather would bring his grandchildren to his
knee and tell them of his little experiences, so let me tell to you
these incidents in a life now so largely lived out.

As I glance back to the Hampshire Highlands of the dear old Berkshire
Hills in Massachusetts, where my father worked as a farmer among the
rooks for twenty years to pay off a mortgage of twelve hundred dollars
upon his little farm, my elder brother and myself slept in the attic
which had one window in the gable end, composed of four lights and
those very small. I remember that attic so distinctly now, with the
ears of corn hung by the husks on the bare rafters, the rats running
over the floor and sometimes over the faces of the boys; the patter of
the rain upon the roof, and the whistle of the wind around that gable
end, the sifting of the snows through the hole in the window over
the pillow on our bed. While these things may appear very simple and
homely before this great audience, yet I mention them because in this
house I had a glimpse of the first great man I ever saw. It was far in
the country, far from the railroad, far from the city, yet into
that region there came occasionally a man or woman whose name is a
household word in the world. In those mountains of my boyhood there
was then an "underground railroad" running from Virginia to Canada.
It was called an "underground railroad," although it was a system
by which the escaped slaves from Virginia came into Delaware, from
Delaware into Philadelphia, then to New York, then to Springfield, and
from Springfield my father took the slaves by night to Worthington,
Mass., and they were sent on by St. Albans, over the Canada line into
liberty. This "underground railroad" system was composed of a chain of
men of whom my father was one link. One night my father drove up in
the dark, and my elder brother and I looked out to see who it was he
had! brought home with him. We supposed he had brought a slave whom he
was helping to escape. Oh, those dreary, dark days, when we were
in continual dread lest the United States Marshal should arrest my
father, throw him into prison for thus assisting these fugitive
slaves. The gloomy memory of those early years chills me now. But as
we gazed out that dark night, we saw that it was a white man with
father and who helped unhitch the horses and put them in the barn. In
the morning this white man sat at the breakfast table and my father
introduced him to us, saying: "Boys, this is Frederick Douglass, the
great colored orator," While I looked at him, giggling as boys will
do, Mr. Douglass turned to us and said, "Yes, boys, I am a colored
man; my mother was a colored woman and my father a white man," and
said he, "I have never seen my father, and I do not know much about
my mother. I remember her once when she interfered between me and the
overseer, who was whipping me, and she received the lash upon her
cheek and shoulder, and her blood ran across my face. I remember
washing her blood from my face and clothes." That story made a deep
impression on us boys, stamped indelibly on our memories. Frederick
Douglass is thus mentioned to illustrate the subject that I have come
to teach to-night. He frequently came to our house after that and my
mother often said to him, "Mr. Douglass, you will work yourself to
death," but he replied that until the slaves were free, and that would
be very soon, he must devote his life to them. But after that, said
he, "I will retire to Rochester, New York, where I have some land and
will build a house." He told us how many rooms it would have, what
decorations would be there, but when the war had been over several
years, he came to the house again and my father asked him about the
house in Rochester. "Well," he said, "I have not built that one yet,
but I have my plans for it. I have some work yet to do; I must take
care of the freedmen in the South, and look after their financial
prosperity, then I will build my cottage." You all remember that he
never built his house, but suddenly went on into the unknown of the
greatest work of his life.

I remember that in 1852, my father came with another man who was put
for the night into the northwest bedroom--this is the room where those
New Englanders always put their friends, because, perhaps, pneumonia
comes there first--that awful, cold, dismal, northwest bedroom.
Thinking a favorite uncle had come, I went to the door early in the
morning. The door was shut--one of those doors which, if you lift
the latch, the door immediately swings open. I lifted the latch and
prepared to leap in to awaken my uncle and astonish him by my early
morning greeting. But when the door swung back, I glanced toward the
bed. The astonishment chills me at this moment, for in that bed was
not my uncle; but a giant, whose toes stood up at the foot-board,
and whose long hair was spread out over the pillow and his long gray
whiskers lay on the bed clothes, and oh, that snore--it sounded like
some steam horn. That giant figure frightened me and I rushed out
into the kitchen and said, "Mother, who is that strange man in the
northwest bed room?" and she said, "Why, that is John Brown." I had
never seen John Brown before, although my father had been with him
in the wool business in Springfield. I had heard some strange things
about John Brown, and the figure of the man made them seem doubly
terrible. I hid beside my mother, where I said I would stay until the
man was through his breakfast, but father came out and demanded that
the boys should come in, and he set me right under the wing of that
awful giant. But when John Brown saw us coming in so timidly, he
turned to us with a smile so benign and beautiful and so greatly in
contrast to what we had pictured him, that it was a transition. He
became to us boys one of the loveliest men we ever knew. He would go
to the barn with us and milk the cows, pitch the hay from the hay-mow;
he drove the cattle to water for us, and told us many a story, until
the dear, good old man became one of the treasurers of our life. It is
true that my mother thought he was half crazy, and consequently she
and father did not always agree about him, and did not discuss him
before the children. But nevertheless, be he a crank, or a fanatic,
or what he may, one thing is sure, the richest milk of human kindness
flowed from that heart and devoted itself sincerely to the uplift of
humanity. I remember him with love, love deep and sacred, up to this
present time. However great an extremist John Brown was, there were
many of them in New England. Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison
and John Brown never could agree. John Brown used to criticise Wendell
Phillips severely. He said that Wendell Phillips could not see to read
the clearest signs of revolution, and he was reminded by the husband
who bought a grave-stone that had been carved for another woman, but
the stone-cutter said "That has the name of another person." "Oh,"
said the widower, "that makes no difference; my wife couldn't read."
John Brown once said of Wm. Lloyd Garrison that he couldn't see the
point and was like the woman who never could see a joke. One morning,
seated at the breakfast table, her husband cracked a joke, but she did
not smile, when he said, "Mary, you could not see a joke if it were
fired at you from a Dalgreen gun," whereupon she remarked: "Now John,
you know they do not fire jokes out of a gun." Well do I recall that
December 2d of 1859. Only a few weeks before John Brown came to our
house and my father subscribed to the purchase of rifles to aid in the
attempt to raise the insurrection among the slaves. The last time I
saw John Brown he was in the wagon with my father. Father gave him the
reins and came back as though he had forgotten something. John Brown
said, "Boys, stay at home; stay at home! Now, remember, you may never
see me again," and then in a lower voice, "And I do not think you ever
will see me again," but "Remember the advice of your Uncle Brown (as
we called him), and stay at home with the old folks, and remember
that you will be more blessed here than anywhere else on earth." The
happiest place on earth for me is still at my old home in Litchfield,
Connecticut. I did not understand him then, but on December 2d at
eleven o'clock my father called us all into the house and all that
hour from eleven to twelve o'clock we sat there in perfect silence. As
the old clock in that kitchen struck eleven, I heard the bell, ring
from the Methodist Church, its peal coming up the valley, from hill to
hill, and echoing its sad tone as the hour wore on. The peal of that
bell remains with me now; it has ever been a source of inspiration to
me. Sixty times struck that old bell. Once a minute, and when the
long sad hour was over, father put his Bible upon the mantel and went
slowly out, and we all solemnly followed, going to our various duties.
That solemn hour had a voice in the coming great Civil War of 1861-65.
At that hour John Brown was hanged in Virginia. All through New
England, they kept that hour with the same solemn services which
characterized my father's family. When the call came for volunteers
the young men of New England enlisted in the army, and sang again and
again, that old song, "John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave,
but his soul goes marching on." His soul is still marching on. And
while I am one of those who would be the first to resist any attempt
to mar the sweet fraternity that now characterises the feeling between
the North and South, as I believe that the Southern soldier fought
for what he believed to be right, and consequently is entitled to our
fraternal respect, and while I believe that John Brown was sometimes a
fanatic, yet this illustration teaches us this great lesson and that
John Brown's advice was true. His happiest days were passed far back
in the quiet of his old home.

Near to our home, in the town of Cummington, lived William Cullen
Bryant, one of the great poets of New England. He came back there to
spend his summers among the mountains he so clearly loved. He promised
the people of Cummington that he would again make his permanent home
there. I remember asking him if he would come clown to the stream
where he wrote "Thanatopsis" and recite it for us. The good, old
neighbor, white haired and trembling, came down to the banks of that
little stream and stood in the shade of the same old maple where he
had written that beautiful poem, and read from the wonderful creation
that made his name famous.

"So live that when thy summons comes, to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each must take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

"Yes," he said, "I will come back to Cummington." So he went to Europe
but came not back to occupy that home. He loved the old home. We were
driving by his place one day when we saw him planting apple trees in
July. We all know that apple trees won't grow when planted in July, so
my father, knowing him well, called to him and said, "Mr. Bryant, what
are you doing there? They won't grow." Mr. Bryant paused a moment and
looked at us, and then said half playfully: "Conwell, drive on, you
have no part nor lot in this matter. I do not expect these trees to
grow; I am setting them out because I want to live over again the days
when my father used to set trees when they would grow. I want to renew
that memory." He was wise, for in his work on "The Transmigration of
Races" he used that experience wonderfully.

In 1860, when we were teaching school, my elder brother and myself, in
Blanchford, Massachusetts, were asked to go to Brooklyn with the body
of a lady who died near our schools. We went to Brooklyn on Saturday
and after the funeral, our friends asked us to stay over Sunday,
saying that they would take us to hear Henry Ward Beecher! That was a
great inducement, because my father read the "Tribune" every Sunday
morning after his Bible (and sometimes before it) and what Henry Ward
Beecher said, my father thought, "was law and Gospel." Sunday night,
we went to Plymouth Church, and there was a crowd an hour before the
service, and when the doors were opened we were crowded up the stairs.
We boys were thrust back into a dirty corner where we could not
see. Oh, yes, that is the way they treat the boys, put them any
place--they're only boys! I remember the disappointment of that night,
when we went there more to see than hear. But finally Mr. Beecher came
out and gave out his text. I remember that I did not pay very much
attention to it. In the middle of the sermon Mr. Beecher began in the
strangest way to auction off a woman: "How much am I offered for the
woman?" he yelled, and while in his biographies, they have said that
this woman was sold in the Broadway Tabernacle, but I afterwards asked
Mrs. Beecher and she said that Mr. Beecher had not sold this woman
twice, so far as she knew, but that she recalled distinctly the sale
in the Plymouth Church. I remember standing up on tip-toes to look
for that woman that was being sold. After he had finished, after the
singing of the hymn, he said "Brethren, be seated," and then said,
"Sam, come here." A colored boy came up tremblingly and stood beside
him. "This boy is offered for $770.00; he is owned in South Carolina
and has run away. His master offers him to me for $770.00, and now if
the officers of the church will pass the plates the boy shall be set
free," and when the plates were returned over $1700.00 came in. As we
went our way home I said to my elder brother: "Oh, what a grand thing
it must be to preach to a congregation of fifteen hundred people." But
my elder brother very wisely said: "You don't know anything about it;
you do not know whether he is happy or not." "Well," I suggested,
"wasn't it a strange thing to introduce a public auction in the middle
of a sermon," and my elder brother again said that if they did more
of that in a country church they would have a larger congregation.
Afterwards I was quite fortunate to know Mr. Beecher and frequently
reported his sermons. I often heard him say that the happiest years
he ever knew were back in Lawrenceville, Ohio, in that little church
where there were no lamps and he had to borrow them himself, light
them himself, and prepare the church for the first service. He told
how he swept the church, lighted the fire in the stove, and how it
smoked; then how he sawed the wood to heat the church, and how he went
into carpenter work to earn money to pay his own salary, yet he
said that was the happiest time of his life. Mrs. Beecher told me
afterwards that Mr. Beecher often talked about those days and said
that bye and bye he would retire and they would again go back to the
simple life they had enjoyed so much.

When he had built his new home near the Hudson, Robert Collier and I
visited him. We found in the rear of an addition that clap-boards had
been put up in all sorts of adjustment. Mr. Collier asked him: "Where
did you find a carpenter to do such poor work as that?" and Mr.
Beecher said humorously: "You could not hire that carpenter on your
house." Then he said: "Mr. Collier, I put those boards on that house
myself. I insisted that they leave that work for me to do. I have been
happy putting on these boards and driving these nails. They took me
back to the old days at Lawrenceville, where we lived over a store
and our pantry was a dry goods box. But there we were so happy. I am
hoping sometime to be as happy again, but it is not possible to do it
while I am in the service of the public." He had promised himself and
his wife some day to go back to that simple life. But his sudden death
taught the same great lesson with all the examples I give of great men
and women. Rev. Robt. Collier always enjoyed the circus--the circus
was the great place of enjoyment outside, perhaps, of his pulpit work.
It was Robert Collier who used to tell the story of the boy whose aunt
always made him go to church, but after going to a circus he wrote to
his aunt: "Auntie, if you had ever been to a circus, you wouldn't go
to another prayer-meeting as long as you live." The love of Collier
for the circus only shows the simplicity of the great man's mind. Mr.
Collier is said to have paid a dollar for a fifty cent ticket to the
circus, only making it conditional that he was to have the privilege
of going 'round to the rear and crawling under the tent, showing what
he must have done when a boy. The fact of Mr. Collier's love for the
circus was one of the strange things in the eccentricities of a great
man's life. Once Mr. Barnum came into Mr. Collier's church and Mr.
Collier said to the usher: "Please show Mr. Barnum to a front seat
for he always gives me one in _his_ circus." These simplicities often
show that somewhere back in each man's life there is a point where
happiness and love are one, and when, that point is passed, we go on
longing to the return.

The night after he went to hear Henry Ward Beecher's great sermon they
persuaded us to stay until the following Monday night, because there
was to be a lecture at the Cooper Institute and there was to be a
parade of political clubs, and fire works, so as country boys, easily
influenced, we decided that the school could wait for another day, and
staid for the procession. We went to Cooper's Institute and there
was a crowd as there was at Beecher's church. We finally got on the
stairway and far in the rear of the great crowd, but my brother stood
on the floor, and I sat on the ledge of the window sill, with my feet
on his shoulders, so he held me while I told him down there what was
going on over yonder. The first man that came on the platform, and
presided at that meeting, was William Cullent Bryant, our dear old
neighbor. When we boys in a strange city saw that familiar face, oh,
the emotions that arose in our hearts! How proud we were at that hour,
that he, our neighbor, was presiding on that occasion. He took his
seat on the stage, the right of which was left vacant for some one yet
to come. Next came a very heavy man, but immediately following him
a tall, lean man. Mr. Bryant arose and went toward him, bowing and
smiling. He was an awkward specimen of a man and all about me people
were asking "Who is that?" but no man seemed to know. I asked a
gentleman who that man was, but he said he didn't know. He was an
awkward specimen indeed; one of the legs of his trousers was up about
two inches above his shoe; his hair was dishevelled and stuck out like
rooster's feathers; his coat was altogether too large for him in the
back, his arms much longer than the sleeves, and with his legs twisted
around the rungs of the chair, was the picture of embarrassment. When
Mr. Bryant arose to introduce the speaker of that evening, he was
known seemingly to few in that great hall. Mr. Bryant said: "Gentlemen
of New York, you have your favorite son in Mr. Seward and if he were
to be President of the United States, every one of us would be proud
of him." Then came great applause. "Ohio has her favorite son in Judge
Wade; and the nation would prosper under his administration, but
Gentlemen of New York, it is a great honor that is conferred upon me
to-night, for I can introduce to you the next President of the United
States, Abraham Lincoln." Then through that audience flew the query as
to whom Abraham Lincoln was. There was but weak applause. Mr. Lincoln
had in his hand a manuscript. He had written it with great care and
exactness and the speech which you read in his biography is the one
that he wrote, not the one that he delivered as I recall it, and it is
fortunate for the country that they did print the one that he wrote. I
think the one he wrote had already been set up in type that afternoon
from his manuscript, and consequently they did not go over it to see
whether it had been changed or not. He had read three pages and had
gone on to the fourth when he lost his place and then he began to
tremble and stammer. He then turned it over two or three times, threw
the manuscript upon the table, and, as they say in the west, "let
himself go." Now the stammering man who had created only silent
derision up to that point, suddenly flashed out into an angel of
oratory and the awkward arms and dishevelled hair were lost sight
of entirely in the wonderful beauty and lofty inspiration of that
magnificent address. The great audience immediately began to follow
his thought, and when he uttered that quotation from Douglass, "It is
written on the sky of America that the slaves shall some day be free,"
he had settled the question that he was to be the next President
of the United States. The applause was so-great that the building
trembled and I felt the windows shake behind me. Afterward, as we
walked home, I said to my elder brother again, "Wasn't it a great
thing to be introduced to all those people as the next President of
the United States?" and my elder brother very wisely said: "You do not
know whether he was really happy or not." Afterwards, in 1864, when
one of my soldiers was unjustly sentenced and his gray-haired mother
plead with me to use what influence I would have with the President, I
went to Washington and told the story to the President. He said he
had heard something about it from Mr. Stanton, and he said he would
investigate the matter, and he did afterward decide that the man
should not be put to death. At the close of that interview I said to
the President: "I beg your pardon, Mr. Lincoln, but is it not a most
exhausting thing to sit here hearing all these appeals and have all of
this business on your hands?" He laid his head on his hand, and in a
somewhat wearied manner, said, with a deep sigh: "Yes, yes; no man
ought to be ambitious to be President of the United States," and said
he, "When this war is over, and that won't be very long, I tell my
"Tad" that we will go back to the farm where I was happier as a boy
when I dug potatoes at twenty-five cents a day than I am now; I tell
him I will buy him a mule and a pony and he shall have a little cart
and he shall make a little garden in a field all his own," and the
President's face beamed as he arose from his chair in the delight of
excitement as he said: "Yes, I will be far happier than I have ever
been here." The next time I looked in the face of Abraham Lincoln was
in the east room of the White House at Washington as he lay in his
coffin. Not long ago at a Chautauqua lecture I was on the very farm
which he bought at Salem, Illinois, and looked around the place where
he had resolved to build a mansion, but which was never constructed.

Near my home in the Berkshires, Charles Dudley Warner was born. When
he had accomplished great things in literature and had written "My
Summer in a Garden," that popular work which attracted the attention
of his newspaper friends, he went to Hartford, where the latter gave
him a banquet. I was invited to attend and report it for the public
press. They lauded him and said how beautiful it was to be so elevated
above his fellow men, and how great he was in the estimation of the
world But he in his answer to the toast said, "Gentlemen, I wish for
no fame, I desire no glory and you have made a mistake if you think
I enjoy any such notoriety. I envy the Hartford teacher whose smile
threw sunshine along her pathway." Then he told us the story of a poor
little boy, cold and barefooted, standing on the street on a terribly
cold day. A lady came along, and looking kindly at him, said, "Little
boy, are you cold?" The little fellow, looking up into her face, said,
"Yes Ma'am, I was cold till you smiled." He would rather have a smile
like that and the simple love of his fellow men than to have all the
fame of the earth. He was honored in all parts of the world by the
greatest of the great, yet he was a sad man when he wrote "My Summer
in a Garden," and it all seems a mystery how he could in such grief
have written that remarkable little tale. This sadness is often
associated with humorists. Mr. Shaw was one of the saddest men I
ever met. Why, he cried on the slightest occasion. I went one day to
interview him in Boston, and Mr. Shepard, his publisher, said "Please
don't trouble Josh Billings now." "What is the matter?" "Oh, he is
crying again," said Mr. Shepard. I asked him how Mr. Shaw could write
such funny things as he did. He then showed me the manuscript (which
Mr. Shaw had just placed on his desk and which he had just written),
in which he says, "I do not know any cure for laziness, but I have
known a second wife to hurry it up some." Artemus Ward wrote the most
laughable things while his heart was in the deepest wretchedness.
Often these glimpses of the funny men whose profession would seem to
show them to be the happiest of earth's people, prove that they are
sometimes the most gloomy and miserable.

John B. Gough, the great temperance orator, the greatest the world has
ever seen, said to me one evening at his home that he would lecture
for forty years, and then would stop. But his wife said, "Now, John,
you know you won't give it up." He assented, "Yes, I will." But his
wife said, "No you won't. You men when you drink of public life find
it like a drink of whiskey, and you are just like the rest of the
men." "No," said he. Then Mr. Gough told again his familiar story of
the minister who was preaching in his pulpit in Boston when he saw the
Governor of the State coming up the aisle. Immediately he began to
stammer, and finally said: "I see the Governor coming in, and as I
know you will want to hear an exhortation from him, I think that I had
better stop." Then one of the old officials leaped up from one of the
front seats and said, "I insist upon your going on with your sermon,
sir; you ought not be embarrassed by the Governor's coming in. We are
all worms! All worms! nothing but worms!" Then the minister was
angry and shouted: "Sir, I would have you understand that there is
a difference in worms." Mr. Gough said he was different from other
people yet the years came and went, and he stayed on the public
platform. One night a committee from Frankford, Philadelphia, asked me
to write him and ask him to lecture for them. I wrote and whether my
influence had anything to do with it or not, I do not know, but he
came from New York and when he was in about the middle of his lecture,
he came to that sentence, "Young man, keep your record clear, for a
single glass of intoxicating liquor may somewhere, in after years,
change into a horrid monster that shall carry you down to woe." And
when he had uttered that wonderful sentence of advice, he slopped to
get breath, reached for a drink of water, swung forward and fell over.
The doctor said he was too late for any earthly aid, and John B.
Gough, with his armor on, went on into Glory. He never found that
earthly rest he had promised himself. His garden never showed its
flowers, and his fields were never strewn with grain.

When our regiment was encamped in Faneuil Hall at Boston before
embarking for the war in 1863, Mr. Wendell Phillips sent an invitation
to the officers of the regiment to visit his home. But when we reached
his house we found that he had been called to Worcester suddenly to
make a speech. But we found his wife there in her rolling chair, for
she was a permanent invalid. Our evening was spent very pleasantly,
but I said to her: "Are you not very lonesome when Mr. Phillips is
away so much?" "Yes," she said, "I am very lonesome; he is father,
mother, brother, sister, husband and child to me," and said she, "he
cares for me with the tenderness of a mother; he waits upon me, he
takes me out, and brings me in; he dresses me, and it now seems so
strange that he is not by my side. If it were not for him, I should
die, but he says that as soon as the slaves are free that he will come
back and be the same husband he was before." The officers standing
around me smiled as they heard of his promise to retire, but said she,
"Oh, yes, he will do as he promised." When the war was over and the
slaves were free, and he had scolded General Grant all he wished, he
did do as he promised, and did retire. He sold his house in the city
and bought one in Waverly, Massachusetts. He did prove the exception
and went back to the private life that he had promised himself and
his wife. Every Sunday morning as I drove by his home I could see him
swinging on his gate. It was a double gate over the driveway, and he
would pull that gate far in, get on it and then swing way out over the
side-walk and then in again. Well, he used to swing on that gate every
Sunday morning, and my family wondered why it was that he always did
it on that particular morning. One Sunday morning when I drove by,
I found Mr. Phillips swinging on his gate over the side-walk, and I
said, "Mr. Phillips, my family wish me to ask you why you swing on
this gate every Sunday morning." Mr. Phillips, who had a very deep
sense of humour, stepped off the gate, stood back, and assuming a
dignified, ministerial air, "I am requested to discourse to-day upon
the text 'Why I swing upon this gate on Sunday morning,' and I will,
therefore, divide my text into two heads." I quickly told him that I
must get to church some time that day. "Then," said he, with a smile,
"just one word more: Why do I swing on a gate? Because the first time
I saw my wife she was swinging on the gate, and the second time I saw
her, we kissed each other over the top of the gate, and when I swing
it reminds me of other happy days long gone by. That, sir, is the
reason I swing upon this gate." Then his humor all disappeared and he
said: "I really swing upon this gate on Sunday morning because I think
the next thing to the love of God is love of man for a true woman--as
you cannot say you love God and hate your brother, neither can you say
you love God unless you have first loved a human being, and I swing on
this gate on Sunday morning because to me it is next to life's highest
worship." And then, in a majestic manner, he said, "Conwell, all
within this gate is PARADISE and all without it MARTYRDOM." In that
wonderful sentence, which I feel sure I recall accurately, he uttered
the most glorious expression that could ever come from uninspired

I had a glimpse of James G. Elaine when I went to his home in Augusta,
Maine, to write his biography for the committee. A day or two after it
was finished a distinguished Senator from Washington came to see me in
Philadelphia and asked if Mr. Blaine had seen the book, and I told him
that he certainly had. "Did he see that second chapter?" "Of course he
did," said I; "he corrected it." Then he wanted to know how much money
it would take to get the book out of circulation. "Why, what is the
matter with the book," said I, but he would not tell me, and said that
he would pay me well if I would only keep the book from circulation.
He did not tell me what was the matter. I told him that the publishers
owned the copyright, having bought it from me. He said, "Is it not
possible for you to take a trip to Europe to-morrow morning?" "But why
take a trip to Europe?" "The committee will pay all of your expenses,

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