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Getting at the Inner Man/Fifty Years on the Lecture Platform   By:

Getting at the Inner Man/Fifty Years on the Lecture Platform by Russell H. Conwell

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Getting at the Inner Man

Millions of Hearers How a University Was Founded Conwell's Splendid Efficiency The Story of "Acres of Diamonds"



Fifty Years on the Lecture Platform




597 Fifth Avenue, New York


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



That Conwell is not primarily a minister that he is a minister because he is a sincere Christian, but that he is first of all an Abou Ben Adhem, a man who loves his fellow men, becomes more and more apparent as the scope of his life work is recognized. One almost comes to think that his pastorate of a great church is even a minor matter beside the combined importance of his educational work, his lecture work, his hospital work, his work in general as a helper to those who need help.

For my own part, I should say that he is like some of the old time prophets, the strong ones who found a great deal to attend to in addition to matters of religion. The power, the ruggedness, the physical and mental strength, the positive grandeur of the man all these are like the general conceptions of the big Old Testament prophets. The suggestion is given only because it has often recurred, and therefore with the feeling that there is something more than fanciful in the comparison; and yet, after all, the comparison fails in one important particular, for none of the prophets seems to have had a sense of humor!

It is perhaps better and more accurate to describe him as the last of the old school of American philosophers, the last of those sturdy bodied, high thinking, achieving men who, in the old days, did their best to set American humanity in the right path such men as Emerson, Alcott, Gough, Wendell Phillips, Garrison, Bayard Taylor, Beecher;[1] men whom Conwell knew and admired in the long ago, and all of whom have long since passed away.

[Footnote 1: The life of Henry Ward Beecher parallels that of Russell H. Conwell in many respects. His Plymouth Church in Brooklyn became the largest in America with a seating capacity of nearly 3,000. But it was not to this audience alone that he preached; for, believing as Dean Conwell did after him, that all things concerning the public welfare are fit subjects for a minister's attention, his opinions on all questions were eagerly followed by the public at large. He was, perhaps, the most popular lecturer in the country of his day, and was an unrivaled after dinner speaker. He allied himself with the Republican party as soon as it was formed, lent his pen and pulpit to further its aims, and during the canvass of 1856 traveled far and wide to speak at mass meetings.

Beecher visited Europe in 1863 for his health and when in Great Britain he addressed vast audiences on the purpose and issues of the Civil War, speaking in one instance for three hours consecutively, and changing materially the state of public opinion. He was a strong advocate of free trade and of woman suffrage. His last public speech was in favor of high license, at Chickering Hall, New York, Feb. 25, 1887.

It was as a speaker that Beecher was seen at his best. His mastery of the English tongue, his dramatic power, his instinctive art of impersonation which had become a second nature, his vivid imagination, his breadth of intellectual view, the catholicity of his sympathies, and his passionate enthusiasm made him a preacher without a peer in his own time and country. Later, like Beecher, Conwell was without peer in his day and the description which characterizes the former applies with equal force to Conwell himself... Continue reading book >>

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