Russell H. Conwell.

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Acres of Diamonds




597 Fifth Avenue, New York


Copyright, 1915, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America

_An Appreciation of
Russell H. Conwell_


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

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

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

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

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

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


[Illustration: His yoke fellow John Wanamaker]

_Acres of Diamonds_

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

"Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

When he had added the moral to his story I saw why he reserved it for
"his particular friends." But I did not tell him I could see it. It was
that mean old Arab's way of going around a thing like a lawyer, to say
indirectly what he did not dare say directly, that "in his private
opinion there was a certain young man then traveling down the Tigris
River that might better be at home in America." I did not tell him I
could see that, but I told him his story reminded me of one, and I told
it to him quick, and I think I will tell it to 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 own
Pennsylvania. If there is anything I enjoy above another on the
platform, it is to get one of these German audiences in Pennsylvania
before me, and fire that at them, and I enjoy it to-night. There was a
man living in Pennsylvania, not unlike some Pennsylvanians you have
seen, who owned a farm, and he did with that farm just what I should do
with a farm if I owned one in Pennsylvania - he sold it. But before he
sold it he decided to secure employment collecting coal-oil for his
cousin, who was in the business in Canada, where they first discovered
oil on this continent. They dipped it from the running streams at that
early time. So this Pennsylvania farmer wrote to his cousin asking for
employment. You see, friends, this farmer was not altogether a foolish
man. No, he was not. He did not leave his farm until he had something
else to do. _Of all the simpletons the stars shine on I don't know of a
worse one than the man who leaves one job before he has gotten another._
That has especial reference to my profession, and has no reference
whatever to a man seeking a divorce. When he wrote to his cousin for
employment, his cousin replied, "I cannot engage you because you know
nothing about the oil business."

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

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

But I need another illustration. I found it in Massachusetts, and I am
sorry I did because that is the state I came from. This young man in
Massachusetts furnishes just another phase of my thought. He went to
Yale College and studied mines and mining, and became such an adept as a
mining engineer that he was employed by the authorities of the
university to train students who were behind their classes. During his
senior year he earned $15 a week for doing that work. When he graduated
they raised his pay from $15 to $45 a week, and offered him a
professorship, and as soon as they did he went right home to his
mother. _If they had raised that boy's pay from $15 to $15.60 he would
have stayed and been proud of the place, but when they put it up to $45
at one leap, he said, "Mother, I won't work for $45 a week. The idea of
a man with a brain like mine working for $45 a week!_ Let's go out in
California and stake out gold-mines and silver-mines, and be immensely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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