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Russell H. Conwell – Acres of Diamonds

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Russell H. Conwell

Russell H. Conwell – Acres of Diamonds

Introduction

A story for my particular friends

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 fifty-seven

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 this city, 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 library.

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

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reserve for my particular friends!" So then, counting myself a particular friend,

I listened, and I have always been glad I did.

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Chapter Two

A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight

e 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 and the valleys 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 country,

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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.

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Chapter Three

The most magnificent diamond mines in all

the history of mankind

hen 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 diamond!"

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.

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Chapter Four

The first shining scales of real gold that were

ever discovered in California

hose 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 -- 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 such 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 his 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!

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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, the farmer was not altogether a foolish man. He did not

leave his farm until he had something else to do.

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Chapter Five

No sense

f 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 country, 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 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

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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."

.

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Chapter Six

Why not take me?

ut 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, let's 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 he was bringing them 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

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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.

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Chapter Seven

You ought to be rich

do not know of anything I would enjoy better than to take

the whole time tonight 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

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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 riches.

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Chapter Eight

Is money good or evil?

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 textbook 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

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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.

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Chapter Nine

You don’t need capital

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 criticized 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 criticize 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 criticize him? We always do that to the man who gets

ahead of us. Why, the man you are criticizing 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 papers?"

"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

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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 goldheaded 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 envelopehs and carry them to

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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.

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Chapter Ten

Are you poor?

re 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 learned 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 half 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.

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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 he went out and sat down upon a bench in the park.

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Chapter Eleven

Watching the ladies

ut 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 tomorrow 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.

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Chapter Twelve

A great opportunity

n 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 employees. 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

moneyowner-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 capitalists today, 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."

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Be a man, be independent, and then shall the laboring man find the roar

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 heart's 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 hearing all the time, representing the capitalists as wicked and the

laboring man 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 capitalists 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.

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Chapter Twelve

Great men of the world

uppose 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

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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 E. 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-two 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?"

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Chapter Thirteen

Many of us are right by the tree that has a

fortune for us

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

widespreading 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 that 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 crystalline 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 confectionery?" 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 that 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

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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 a fivedollar bill for another such trout as that,

not that it was worth that much, but they 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

apiece 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

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that man's wealth was out here in his back yard for twenty years, but he didn't

see it until his wife drove him out with a mop stick.

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Chapter Fourteen

What to invent or what to make

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 wheelbarrow."

When his little girl came down, he asked her what she wanted, and she

said, "I want a little doll's wash-stand, 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

tonight. 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 there -- anywhere else but Philadelphia -- and

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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 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.

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Chapter Fifteen

How are you going to be great?

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 officeholder, 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 he who sent

him." In this country the people are the masters, and the officeholders 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.

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Chapter Sixteen

An incident

nother 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 these 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 that he has ever received.

But suppose I go into the high school tomorrow 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 tonight 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

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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 people's honor as is a king

upon a throne. We do teach it as a mother did her little boy in New 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 this 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

tonight. 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 streaming -- 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 reenlisted, 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

selectmen" in New 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 teachers to "whale" me, but I mean no

"honorable mention."

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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 selectmen 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.

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Chapter Seventeen

The young hero

s he stood in this 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 today 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!"'

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Chapter Eighteen

Doing some great deed with little means

h 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 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.

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Why was he the hero? Simply because that man fell into the 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 tonight 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. Baily says: "He most lives who

thinks most, who feels the noblest, and who acts the best."

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Table of Contents

Introduction...................................................................................................2

A story for my particular friends ................................................................2

Chapter Two..................................................................................................4

A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.................................................4

Chapter Three ...............................................................................................6

The most magnificent diamond mines in all the history of mankind.......6

Chapter Four .................................................................................................7

The first shining scales of real gold that were ever discovered in

California .......................................................................................................7

Chapter Five ..................................................................................................9

No sense..........................................................................................................9

Chapter Six ..................................................................................................11

Why not take me? .......................................................................................11

Chapter Seven .............................................................................................13

You ought to be rich....................................................................................13

Chapter Eight ..............................................................................................15

Is money good or evil? ................................................................................15

Chapter Nine ...............................................................................................17

You don’t need capital................................................................................17

Chapter Ten.................................................................................................20

Are you poor? ..............................................................................................20

Chapter Eleven............................................................................................22

Watching the ladies.....................................................................................22

Chapter Twelve ...........................................................................................23

A great opportunity ....................................................................................23

Chapter Twelve ...........................................................................................25

Great men of the world...............................................................................25

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Russell H. Conwell – Acres of Diamonds

Chapter Thirteen.........................................................................................27

Many of us are right by the tree that has a fortune for us ......................27

Chapter Fourteen........................................................................................30

What to invent or what to make ................................................................30

Chapter Fifteen............................................................................................32

An incident.................................. .................................................................32

Chapter Sixteen ...........................................................................................33

How are you going to be great? .................................................................33

Chapter Seventeen ......................................................................................36

The young hero............................................................................................36

Chapter Eighteen ........................................................................................37

Doing some great deed with little means...................................................37

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