Bryce, James



James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce (10 May 1838 – 22 January 1922) was a British academic, jurist, historian and Liberal politician. Autograph Slip Signed, n.d. 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 written in blk ink with light toning on leaf overall, fine/very fine condition.

"Bryce was born in Arthur Street, Belfast, County Antrim, the son of James Bryce, LL.D., of Glasgow, by his wife Margaret, daughter of James Young of Whiteabbey, County Antrim. The first eight years of his life were spent residing at his grandfather's Whiteabbey residence, often playing for hours on the tranquil picturesque shoreline. John Annan Bryce was his younger brother. He was educated under his uncle Reuben John Bryce at the Belfast Academy, at Glasgow High School, the University of Glasgow, the University of Heidelberg and Trinity College, Oxford. He was elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, in 1862, and called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1867.

Bryce went to the bar and practised in London for a few years,citation needed but he was soon called back to Oxford as Regius Professor of Civil Law, a position he held between 1870 and 1893. From 1870 to 1875 he was also Professor of Jurisprudence at Owen's College, Manchester. His reputation as an historian had been made as early as 1864 by his work on the Holy Roman Empire. In 1872 he travelled to Iceland to see the land of the Icelandic sagas as he was a great admirer of Njals saga. 1876, he climbed above the tree line on Mount Ararat and found a slab of hand-hewn timber, four feet long and five inches thick, which he believed was from Noah's Ark.

Bryce was an ardent Liberal in politics, and in 1880 he was elected to parliament for the Tower Hamlets constituency in London. Bryce's intellectual distinction and political industry made him a valuable member of the Liberal Party. As soon as the late 1860s, he acted as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Secondary Education In 1885 he was made Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under William Ewart Gladstone, but he had to leave office after the electoral defeat the same year.

The Liberals were to remain out of office for the next ten years. In 1897, after a visit to South Africa, Bryce published a volume of Impressions of that country, which had considerable weight in Liberal circles when the Second Boer War was being discussed. He was one of the harshest critics of British repressive policy against Boer civilians in the South African partisan War. Taking the risk of being very unpopular for a certain moment, he condemned the systematic burning of farms and the imprisonment of old people, women and children in British concentration camps. Bryce was made Chief Secretary for Ireland in Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's cabinet in 1905.

However, even this time Bryce's cabinet post was held only for a brief period, because as soon as February 1907 he was appointed British Ambassador to the United States of America. He kept this diplomatic office until 1913 and was very efficient in strengthening the Anglo-American friendship. Bryce made many personal friends in American politics, amongst them US President Theodore Roosevelt.

As an author, Bryce quickly became well known in America for his 1888 work, The American Commonwealth. The book thoroughly examined the institutions of the United States from the point of view of a historian and constitutional lawyer, and it at once became a classic.

Lord Bryce was commissioned by Prime Minister H. H. Asquith to give the official Bryce Report on alleged German atrocities in Belgium. The report was published in 1915, and was damning of German behaviour against civilians; Lord Bryce's accounts were confirmed by Vernon Lyman Kellogg, director of the American Commission for Relief in Belgium, who told the New York Times that the German military enslaved hundreds of thousands of Belgian workers, and abused and maimed many of them in the process.

During the last years of his life, Bryce served at the International Court at The Hague, supported the establishment of the League of Nations and published a book about Modern Democracy in 1921 that was rather critical of post-war democracy; specifically, he strongly opposed the new right to vote for women."