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美国20世纪最伟大的100篇演讲Russell H. Conwell - Acres of Diamonds

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 1 of 22


Russell Conwell

Acres of Diamonds


delivered over 5000 times at various times and places from 1900-1925 (this version recorded in studio)

Audio mp3 Excerpt of Address


http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/rconwellacresofdiamonds.htm 2008-1-7


American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds"


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

The old guide was leading my camel by its halter along the banks of those
ancient rivers, and he told me story after story until I grew weary of his storytelling
and ceased to listen. I have never been irritated with that guide when he
lost his temper as I ceased listening. But I remember that he took off his Turkish
cap and swung it in a circle to get my attention. I could see it through the corner
of my eye, but I determined not to look straight at him for fear he would tell
another story. But although I am not a woman, I did finally look, and as soon as I
did he went right into another story. Said he, “I will tell you a story now which I
reserve for my particular friends.”
When he emphasized the words “particular
friends,” I listened and I have ever been glad I did. I really feel devoutly thankful,
that there are 1,674 young men who have been carried through college by this
lecture who are also glad that I did listen.

The old guide told me that there once lived not far from the River Indus an
ancient Persian by the name of Ali Hafed. He said that Ali Hafed owned a very
large farm; that he had orchards, grain-fields, and gardens; that he had money at
interest and was a wealthy and contented man. One day there visited that old
Persian farmer one of those ancient Buddhist priests, one of the wise men of the
East. He sat down by the fire and told the old farmer how this old world of ours
was made.

He said that this world was once a mere bank of fog, and that the Almighty thrust
His finger into this bank of fog, and began slowly to move His finger around,
increasing the speed until at last He whirled this bank of fog into a solid ball of
fire. Then it went rolling through the universe, burning its way through other
banks of fog, and condensed the moisture without, until it fell in floods of rain
upon its hot surface, and cooled the outward crust. Then the internal fires
bursting outward through the crust threw up the mountains and hills, the valleys,
the plains and prairies of this wonderful world of ours. If this internal molten mass
came bursting out and cooled very quickly, it became granite; less quickly
copper, less quickly silver, less quickly gold, and, after gold, diamonds were
made. Said the old priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.”
Now that
is literally scientifically true, that a diamond is an actual deposit of carbon from
the sun.

The old priest told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb he
could purchase the county, and if the had a mine of diamonds he could place his
children upon thrones through the influence of their great wealth. Ali Hafed heard
all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a
poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was
discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor. He said, “I want
a mine of diamonds,”
and he lay awake all night. Early in the morning he sought
out the priest. I know by experience that a priest is very cross when awakened
early in the morning, and when he shook that old priest out of his dreams, Ali
Hafed said to him:

"Will you tell me where I find diamonds?”


Page 2 of 22

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 3 of 22

"Diamonds! What do you want with diamonds?”


“Why, I wish to be immensely rich.”


“Well, then, go along and find them. That is all you have to do; go and find them,
and then you have them.”


“But I don’t know where to go.”


“Well, if you will find a river that runs through white sands, between high
mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds.”


“I don’t believe there is any such river.”


“Oh yes, there are plenty of them. All you have to do is to go and find them, and
then you have them.”


Said Ali Hafed, “I will go.”


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

Then after that old guide had told me that awfully sad story, he stopped the
camel I was riding on and went back to fix the baggage that was coming off
another camel, and I had an opportunity to muse over his story while he was
gone. I remember saying to myself, “Why did he reserve that story for his
‘particular friends’?”
There seemed to be no beginning, no middle, no end,
nothing to it.

That was the first story I had ever heard told in my life, and would be the first one
I ever read, in which the hero was killed in the first chapter. I had but one chapter
of that story, and the hero was dead. When the guide came back and took up the
halter of my camel, he went right ahead with the story, into the second chapter,
just as though there had been no break.

The man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden
to drink, and as that camel put its nose into the shallow water of that garden
brook, Ali Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light from the white sands
of the stream. He pulled out a black stone having an eye of light reflecting all the
hues of the rainbow. He took the pebble into the house and put it on the mantel
which covers the central fires, and forgot all about it.

A few days later this same old priest came in to visit Ali Hafed’s successor, and
the moment he opened that drawing-room door he saw that flash of light on the
mantel, and he rushed up to it, and shouted:

“Here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?”


“Oh no, Ali Hafed has not returned, and that is not a diamond. That is nothing but
a stone we found right out here in our own garden.”


“But,”
said the priest, “I tell you I know a diamond when I see it. I know positively
that is a diamond.”


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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 4 of 22

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


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


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

I told him of a man out in California in 1847, who owned a ranch. He heard they
had discovered gold in southern California, and so with a passion for gold he
sold his ranch to Colonel Sutter, and away he went, never to come back. Colonel
Sutter put a mill upon a stream that ran through that ranch, and one day his little
girl brought some wet sand from the raceway into their home and sifted it
through her fingers before the fire, and in that falling sand a visitor saw the first
shining scales of real gold that were ever discovered in California. The man who
had owned that ranch wanted gold, and he could have secured it for the mere
taking. Indeed, thirty-eight millions of dollars has been taken out of a very few
acres since then.

About eight years ago I delivered this lecture in a city that stands on that farm,
and they told me that a one-third owner for years and years had been getting
one hundred and twenty dollars in gold every fifteen minutes, sleeping or waking,
without taxation. You and I would enjoy an income like that --if we didn’t have to
pay an income tax.

But a better illustration really than that occurred here in our town of
Pennsylvania. If there is anything I enjoy above another on the platform, it is to
get one of these German audiences in Pennsylvania, and fire that at them, and I
enjoy it tonight. There was a man living in Pennsylvania, not unlike some
Pennsylvanians you have seen, who owned a farm, and he did with that farm
just what I should do with a farm if I owned one in Pennsylvania-he sold it. But
before he sold it he decided to secure employment collecting coal-oil for his
cousin, who was in the business in Canada, where they first discovered oil on
this continent. They dipped it from the running streams at that early time. So this
Pennsylvania farmer wrote to his cousin asking for employment. You see,
friends, this farmer was not altogether a foolish man. No, he was not. He did not
leave his farm until he had something else to do. Of all the simpletons the stars
shine on I don’t know of a worse one than the man who leaves one job before he
has gotten another. That has especial reference to my profession, and has no
reference whatever to a man seeking a divorce. When he wrote to his cousin for
employment, his cousin replied, “I cannot engage you because you know nothing
about the oil business.”
Well, then the old farmer said, “I will know,”
and with
most commendable zeal (characteristic of the students of Temple University) he
sat himself at the study of the whole subject. He began away back at the second
day of God’s creation when this world was covered thick and deep with that rich
vegetation which since has turned to the primitive beds of coal. He studied the

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 5 of 22

subject until he found that the drainings really of those rich beds of coal
furnished the coal-oil that was worth pumping, and then he found how it came up
with the living springs. He studied until he knew what it looked like, smelled like,
tasted like, and how to refine it. Now said he in his letter to his cousin, “I Has God
understand the oil business.”
His cousin answered, “All right, come on.”
You? Q&A


What doe
So he sold his farm, according to the county record, for $833 (even money, “no say? I tru
cents”). He had scarcely gone from that place before the man who purchased what sho

ChristianBib

the spot went out to arrange for the watering of the cattle. He found the previous
owner had gone out years before and put a plank across the brook back of the
barn, edgewise into the surface of the water just a few inches. The purpose of
that plank at that sharp angle across the brook was to throw over to the other
bank a dreadful-looking scum through which the cattle would not put their noses. Understa
But with that plank there to throw it all over to one side, the cattle would drink Word
below, and thus that man who had gone to Canada had been himself damming Break thr
back for twenty-three years a flood of coal-oil which the state geologists of traditiona
Pennsylvania declared to us ten years later was even then worth a hundred to truth a
millions of dollars to our state, a thousand millions of dollars. The man who word of li
owned that territory on which the city to Titusville now stands, and those www.hallvw
Pleasantville valleys, had studied the subject from the second day of God’s
creation clear down to the present time. He studied it until he knew all about it,
and yet he is said to have sold the whole of it for $833, and again I say, “no

The Res

sense.”


of Jesus

the Truth

But I need another illustration. I found it in Massachusetts, and I am sorry I did

What Ha

because that is the state I came from. This young man in Massachusetts

the Catho

furnishes just another phase of my thought. He went to Yale College and studied

After Vat

mines and mining, and became such an adept as a mining engineer that he was

www.mostho

employed by the authorities of the university to train students who were behind
their classes. During his senior years he earned $15 a week for doing that work.
When he graduated they raised his pay from $15 to $45 a week, and offered him
a professorship, as soon as they did he went right home to his mother. If they Free Bib
had raised that boy’s pay from $14 to $15.60 he would have stayed and been Courses
proud of the place, but when they put it up to $45 at one leap, he said, “Mother, I Email/po
won’t work for $45 a week. The idea of a man with a brain like mine working for Bible Sch
$45 a week! Let’s go out to California and stake out gold-mines and silver-mines, paced wi
and be immensely rich.” Said his mother, “Now, Charlie, it is just as well to be

helpers.

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

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

But I do know the other end of the line. He had scarcely gotten the other end of
the old homestead before the succeeding owner went out to dig potatoes. The
potatoes were already growing in the ground when he bought the farm, and as
the old farmer was bringing in a basket of potatoes it hugged very tight between
the ends of the stone fence. You know in Massachusetts our farms are nearly all
stone wall. There you are obliged to be very economical of front gateways in
order to have some place to put the stone. When that basket hugged so tight he
set it down on the ground, and then dragged on one side, and pulled on the
other side, and as he was dragging that basket though this farmer noticed in the
upper and outer corner of that stone wall, right next the gate, a block of native

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 6 of 22

silver eight inches square. That professor of mines, mining, and mineralogy who
knew so much about the subject that he would not work for $45 a week, when he
sold that homestead in Massachusetts sat right on that silver to make the
bargain. He was born on that homestead, was brought up there, and had gone
back and forth rubbing the stone with his sleeve until it reflected his
countenance, and seemed to say, “Here is a hundred thousand dollars right
down here just for the taking.”
But he would not take it. It was in a home in
Newburyport, Massachusetts, and there was no silver there, all away off-well, I
don’t know were, and he did not, but somewhere else, and he was a professor of
mineralogy.

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


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

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


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

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

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 7 of 22

the rest of you would sell for money.

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

I say that you ought to get rich, and it is our duty to get rich. How many of my
pious brethren say to me, “Do you, a Christian minister, spend your time going
up and down the country advising young people to get rich, to get money?”“Yes,
of course I do.”
They say, “Isn’t that awful! Why don’t you preach the gospel
instead of preaching about man’s making money?”“Because to make money
honestly is to preach the gospel.”
That is the reason. The men who get rich may
be the most honest men you find in the community. “Oh,”
but says some young
man here to-night, “
I have been told all my life that if a person has money he is
very dishonest and dishonorable and mean and contemptible.”


My friend, that is the reason why you have none, because you have that idea of
people. The foundation of your faith is altogether false. Let me say here clearly,
and say it briefly, though subject to discussion which I have not time for here,
ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is
why they are rich. That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of
people to work with them. It is because they are honest men.

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

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

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

Money is power, and you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought
because you can do more good with it than you could without it. Money printed
your Bible, money builds your churches, money sends your missionaries, and
money pays your preachers, and you would not have many of them, either, if you

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American Rhetoric: Russell Conwell -- "Acres of Diamonds" Page 8 of 22

did not pay them. I am always willing that my church should raise my salary,
because the church that pays the largest salary always raises it the easiest. You
never knew an exception to it in your life. The man who gets the largest salary
can do the most good with the power that is furnished to him. Of course he can if
his spirit be right to use it for what it is given to him.

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

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

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

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

Yet the age is prejudiced against advising a Christian man (or, as a Jew would
say, a godly man) from attaining unto wealth. The prejudice is so universal and
the years are far enough back, I think, for me to safely mention that years ago up
at Temple University there was a young man in our theological school who
thought he was the only pious student in that department. He came into my
office on evening and sat down by my desk, and said to me: “Mr. President, I
think it is my duty sir, to come in and labor with you.”“What has happened now?”
Said he, “I heard you say at the Academy, at the pierce School commencement,
that you thought it was an honorable ambition for a young man to desire to have
wealth, and that you thought it made him temperate, made him anxious to have
a good name, and made him industrious. You spoke to make him a good man.
Sir, I have come to tell you the Holy Bible says that ‘money is the root of all evil.’”
I told him I had never seen it in the Bible, and advised him to go out into the
chapel and get the Bible, and show me the place. So out he went for the Bible,
and soon he stalked into my office with the Bible open, with all the bigoted pride
of the narrow sectarian, of one who founds his Christianity on some
misinterpretation of Scripture. He flung the Bible down on my desk, and fairly
squealed into my ear: “There it is Mr. President; you can read it yourself.”
I said
to him: “Well young man, you will learn when you get a little older that you
cannot trust another denomination to read the Bible for you. You belong to
another denomination. You are taught in the theological school, however, that

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emphasis is the exegesis. Now, will you take that Bible and read it yourself, and
give the proper emphasis to it?”


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

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

I think I will leave that behind me now and answer the question of nearly all of
you who are asking, “Is there opportunity to get rich in Philadelphia?”
Well, now,
how simple a thing it is to see where it is, and the instant you see where it is it is
yours. Some old gentleman gets up back there and says, “Mr. Conwell, have you
lived in Philadelphia for thirty-one years and don’t know that the time has gone
by when you can make anything in this city?”“No, I don’t think it is.”“Yes, it is; I
have tried it.”


“What business are you in?”“I kept a store here for twenty years, and never
made a thousand dollars in the whole twenty years.”“Well, then, you can
measure the good you have been to this city by what this city has paid you,
because a man can judge very well what he is worth by what he receives’
that is,
in what he is to the world at this time. If you have not made over a thousand
dollars in twenty years in Philadelphia, it would have been better for Philadelphia
if they had kicked you out of the city nineteen years and nine months ago. A man
has no right to keep a store in Philadelphia twenty years and not make at least
five hundred thousand dollars, even thought it be a corner grocery-up-town.”
You
say, “You cannot make five hundred thousand dollars in a store now.”
Oh, my
friends, if you will just take only four blocks around you, and find out what the
people want and what you ought to supply them, you would very soon see it.
There is wealth right within the sound of your voice.

Some one says: “You don’t know anything about business. A preacher never
knows a thing about business.”
Well, then I will have to prove that I am an
expert. I don’t like to do this, but I have to do it because my testimony will not be
taken if I am not an expert. My father kept a country store, and if there is any
place under the stars where a man gets all sorts of experience in every kind of
mercantile transactions, it is in the country store. I am not proud of my
experience, but sometimes when my father was away he would leave me in
charge of the store, thought fortunately for him that was not very often. But this
did occur many times, friends: A man would come onto the store, and say to me,
“Do you keep jack-knives?”“No we don’t keep jack-knives,”
and I went off
whistling a tune. What did I care about that man, anyhow?

Then another farmer would come in and say, “Do you keep jack-knives?”“No,
we don’t keep jack-knives.”
Then I went away and whistled another tune. Then a
third man came right in the same door and said, “Do you keep jack-knives?”“No.
Why is every one around here asking for jack-knives? Do you suppose we are
keeping this store to supply the whole neighborhood with jack-knives?”
Do you
carry on your store like that in Philadelphia? The difficulty was I had not then
learned that the foundation of godliness and the foundation principle of success

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in business are both the same precisely. The man who says, “I cannot carry my
religion into business”
advertises himself either as being an imbecile in business,
or on the road to bankruptcy, or a thief, one of the three, sure. He will fail within a
very few years. He certainly will if he doesn’t carry his religion into business. If I
had been carrying on my father’s store on a Christian plan, godly plan, I would
have had a jack-knife for the third man when he called for it. Then I would have
actually done him a kindness, and I would have received a reward myself, which
it would have been my duty to take.

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

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

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


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

But another young man gets up over there and says, “
I cannot take the
mercantile business,”
(While I am talking of trade it applies to every occupation.)

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“Why can't you go into the mercantile business?”“Because I haven’t any capital.”
Oh, the weak and dudish creature that can't see over its collar! It makes a
person weak to see these little dudes standing around the corners and saying,
“Oh, if I had plenty of capital, how rich would I get.”“Young man, do you think
you are going to get rich on capital?”“Certainly.”
Well, I say, “Certainly not.”
If
your mother has plenty of money, and she will set you up in business, you will
“set her up in business,”
supplying you with capital.

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

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

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

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

I remember one at Niagara Falls. I think I remember one a great deal nearer. I
think there are gentlemen present who were at a great banquet, and I beg
pardon of his friends. At a banquet here in Philadelphia there sat beside me a
kind-hearted young man, and he said, “Mr. Conwell, you have been sick for two
or three years. When you go out, take my limousine, and it will take you up to
your house on Broad Street.”
I thanked him very much, and perhaps I ought not
to mention the incident in this way, but I follow the facts. I got on to the seat with
the driver of that limousine, outside, and when we were going up I asked the

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driver, “How much did this limousine cost?”“Six thousand eight hundred, and he
had to pay the duty on it.”“Well,”
I said, “does the owner of this machine ever
drive it himself?” At that the chauffeur laughed so heartily that he lost control of
his machine. He was so surprised at the question that he ran up on the sidewalk,
and around a corner lamp-post into the street again.

And when he got into the street he laughed till the whole machine trembled. He
said: “He drive this machine! Oh, he would be lucky if he knew enough to get our
when we get there.”


I must tell you about a rich man’s son at Niagara Falls. I came in from the lecture
to the hotel, and as I approached the desk of the clerk there stood a millionaire’s
son from New York. He was an indescribable specimen of anthropologic
potency. He had a skull-cap on one side of his head, with a gold tassel in the top
of it, and a gold-headed cane under his arm with more in it than in his head. It is
a very difficult thing to describe that young man. He wore an eye-glass that he
could not see through, patent-leather boots that he could not walk in, and pants
that he could not sit down in-dressed like a grasshopper. This human cricket
came up to the clerk’s desk just as I entered, adjusted his unseeing eye-glass,
and spake in this wise to the clerk. You see, he thought it was “Hinglish, you
know,”
to lisp. “Thir, will you have the kindness to supply me with thome papah
and enwelophs!”
The hotel clerk measured the man quick, and he pulled the
envelopes and paper out of a drawer, threw them across the counter toward the
young man, and then turned away to his books. You should have seen that
young man when those envelopes came across that counter.

He swelled up like a gobbler turkey, adjusted his unseeing eye-glass, and yelled:
“Come right back here. Now, thir, will you order a thervant to take that papah and
enwelophs to yondah dethk.”
Oh, the poor, miserable, contemptible American
monkey! He could not carry paper and envelopes twenty feet. I suppose he
could not get his arms down to do it. I have no pity for such travesties upon
human nature. If you have not capital, young man, I am glad of it. What you need
is common sense, not copper cents.

The best thing I can do is to illustrate by actual facts well known to you all. A.T.
Stewart, a poor boy in New York, had $1.50 to begin life on. He lost 87.
cents of
that on the very first venture. How fortunate that young man who loses the first
time he gambles. That boy said, “I will never gamble again in business,”
and he
never did.

How came he to lose 87.
cents? You probably all know the story how he lost it-
because he bought some needles, threads, and buttons to sell which people did
not want, and had them left on his hands, a dead loss. Said the boy, “I will not
lose any more money in that way.”
Then he went around first to the doors and
asked the people what they did want. Then when he had found out what they
wanted he invested his 62.
cents to supply a known demand. Study it wherever
you choose-in business, in your profession, in your housekeeping, whatever your
life, that one thing is the secret of success. You must first know the demand. You
must first know what people need, and then invest yourself where you are most
needed. A.T. Stewart went on that principle until he was worth what amounted
afterward to forty millions of dollars, owning the very store in which Mr.
Wanamaker carries on his great work in New York. His fortune was made by his
losing something, which taught him the great lesson that he must only invest
himself or his money in something that people need. When will you salesmen
learn it? When will you manufactures learn that you must know the changing
needs of humanity if you would succeed in life? Apply yourselves, all you
Christian people, as manufactures or merchants or workmen to supply that
human need. It is a great principle as broad as humanity and as deep as the
Scripture itself.

The best illustration I ever heard was of John Jacob Astor. You know that he
made the money of the Astor family when he lived in New York. He came across

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the sea in debt for his fare. But that poor boy with nothing in his pocket made the
fortune of the Astor family on one principle. Some young man here to-night will
say, “Well, they could make these over in New York, but they could not do it in
Philadelphia!”
My friends, did you ever read that wonderful book of Riss (his
memory is sweet to us because of his recent death), wherein is given his
statistical account of the records taken in 1889 of 107 millionaires of New York. If
you read the account you will see that out of the 107 millionaires only seven
made their money in New York. Out of the 107 millionaires worth ten million
dollars in real estate then, 67 of them made their money in towns of less than
3,500 inhabitants. The richest man in this country to-day, if you read the real-
estate values, has never moved away from a town of 3,500 inhabitants.

It makes not so much difference where you are as who you are. But if you
cannot get rich in Philadelphia you certainly cannot do it in New York. Now John
Jacob Astor illustrated what can be done anywhere. He had a mortgage once on
a millinery-store, and they could not sell bonnets enough to pay the interest on
his money. So he foreclosed that mortgage, took possession of the store, and
went in to partnership with the very same people, in the very same store, with
the same capital. He did not give them a dollar of capital. They had to sell goods
to get any money. Then he left them alone in the store just as they had been
before, and he went out and sat down on a bench in the park in the shade. What
was John Jacob Astor doing out there, and in partnership with people who had
failed on his own hands? Had the most important and, to my mind, the most
pleasant part of that partnership on his hands. For as John Jacob Astor sat on
that bench he was watching the ladies as they went by; and where is the man
who would not get rich at that business? As he sat on the bench if a lady passed
him with her shoulders back and head up, and looked straight to the front, as if
she did not care if all the world did gaze on her, then he studied her bonnet, and
by the time it was out of sight he know the shape of the frame, the color of the
trimmings, and the crinklings in the feather. I sometimes try to describe a bonnet,
but not always. I would not try to describe a modern bonnet.

Where is the man that could describe one? This aggregation of all sorts of
driftwood stuck on the back of the head, or the side of the neck, like a rooster
with only one tail feather left. But in John Jacob Astor’s day there was some art
about the millinery business, and he went to the millinery-store and said to them:
“Now put into the show-window just such a bonnet as I describe to you, because
I have already seen a lady who likes such a bonnet. Don’t make up any more
until I come back.”
Then he went out and sat down again, and another lady
passed him of a different form, of a different complexion, with a different shape
and color of bonnet. “Now,”
said he, “put such a bonnet as that in the show-
window.”
He did not fill his show-window up-town with a lot of hats and bonnets
to drive people away, and then sit on the back stairs and bawl because people
went to Wanamaker’s to trade. He did not have a hat or a bonnet in that show-
window but what some lady liked before it was made up. The tide of custom
began immediately to turn in, and that has been the foundation of the greatest
store in New York in that line, and still exists as one of three stores. Its fortune
was made by John Jacob Astor after they had failed in business, not by giving
them any more money, but by finding out what the ladies liked for bonnets before
they wasted any material in making them up. I tell you if a man could foresee the
millinery business he could foresee anything under heaven!

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

But you will say, “You cannot do anything of the kind. You cannot start without
capital.”
Young man, let me illustrate for a moment. I must do it. It is my duty to

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every young man, and woman, because we are all going into business very soon
on the same plan. Young man, remember if you know what people need you
have gotten more knowledge of a fortune than any amount of capital can give
you.

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

“Oh,”
But you say, “didn’t he have any capital?”
Yes, a penknife, but I don’t know
that he had paid for that.

I spoke thus to an audience in New Britain, Connecticut, and a lady four seats
back went home and tried to take off her collar, and the collar-button stuck in the
buttonhole. She threw it out and said, “I am going to get up something better
than that to put on collars.”
Her husband said: “After what Conwell said to-night,
you see there is a need of an improved collar-fastener that is easier to handle.
There is a human need; there is a great fortune. Now, then, get up a collar-
button and get rich.”
He made fun of her, and consequently made fun of me, and
that is one of the saddest things which comes over me like a deep cloud of
midnight sometimes-although I have worked so hard for more than half a
century, yet how little I have ever really done. Notwithstanding the greatness and
the handsomeness of your compliment to-night, I do not believe there is one in
ten of you that is going to make a million of dollars because you are here tonight;
but it is not my fault, it is yours. I say that sincerely. What is the use of my
talking if people never do what I advise them to do? When her husband ridiculed
her, she made up her mind she would make a better collar-button, and when a
woman makes up her mind “she will,”
and does not say anything about it, she
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