James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce

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James Bryce in 1902

James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce, OM, GCVO, PC, FRS, FBA (10 May 1838 – 22 January 1922) was an Ulster-born academic, jurist, historian, and Liberal politician.




  • Whether the associations of the Imperial name are bad, as Mr. Gladstone thinks, I will not discuss. Splendid and imposing they certainly were, not only in the age of the Antonines, but in the best days of the mediaeval Empire, from Otto the Great to Frederick II. But that splendour they have lost. ... In fact, the title of King is now the less common of the two, and, with such associations as our kingship has, it is far more dignified. There has been a King of the English ever since the ninth or tenth century; no other Monarchy in Europe (except the lands of our Scandinavian kingsfolk and except the Crown of St. Stephen) can boast of anything like an equal antiquity. ... Why endanger the pre-eminence of style of the only European Crown which combines the glories of ancient legitimacy with those of equally ancient constitutional freedom?
    • Letter to The Times (13 March 1876), p. 8, after Queen Victoria was given the title "Empress of India"
  • He was opposed on principle to an Established Church.
    • Speech in Tower Hamlets, London (27 March 1879), quoted in The Times (31 March 1879), p. 6
  • In regard to public expenditure, the practice and rule of the Liberal Government had been economy and retrenchment, while that of the Tory Government was extravagance and waste. The cause of the extravagance of the present Government had been their foreign policy, which was one of "blustering and flustering."
    • Speech in Tower Hamlets, London (27 March 1879), quoted in The Times (31 March 1879), p. 6


  • Russia...crushed Poland; but I ask hon. Members whether they desire to see this country imitate the methods by which Poland has been crushed? This force of nationality is a great force in human affairs... I do not say that it is always a good thing. It is one of those sentiments which, though primarily and usually good, because it binds men together by a common devotion to a fine idea, may also become a destroying power and the instrument of evil. It works for good or ill, just as you choose to treat it. But it is a force which Governments ignore at their peril. I submit that the wise and prudent course for statesmen to take is by giving such recognition as they can to the principle of nationality to make it what it ought to be, a fertilizing stream, and not a devastating torrent—a means of fostering and ennobling national life, and not a source of disaffection and hatred.
  • I believe that Ireland will be better legislated for in a Legislature in Dublin by its own Members, because that Legislature will be in sympathy with the feelings and will understand the needs of its fellow-citizens... It is idle to think of legislating satisfactorily for Ireland in a House in which the Irish Members constitute a small minority out of sympathy with the majority—a House chiefly composed of Members who have never been in Ireland, and have no direct personal knowledge of Irish conditions and Irish sentiment—a House whose acts and votes are checked and nullified by another and an irresponsible House, in which there is not a single Representative of Irish national feeling.
  • Liberalism was a plant which did not thrive in stagnant waters, and the waters of London, to their shame be it spoken, were stagnant. Where there was a want of active zeal all the worse and baser instincts which had power in politics told against the Liberal party. The money power was against the Liberal party, and so was the liquor power.
    • Speech to the London Liberal and Radical Union at St. James's-hall (11 January 1887), quoted in The Times (12 January 1887), p. 7
  • The educated classes were apt to speak in a patronizing tone of the "masses of the people", and to talk of political education as if it were only needed by those masses, but the fact was that the middle classes needed education, especially on this Irish question, quite as much as the masses. The whole trouble and difficulty of our dealings with Ireland had arisen from our ignorance. ... He confidently believed that the country would arrive at but one conclusion, and that that would be in favour of Home Rule. The work would not be a long one, because two or three years would undoubtedly see the solution of this question in the sense which they desired to see it concluded—a consummation which was so much to be desired not only in the interests of Ireland but also of England, Scotland, and Wales.
    • Speech to the Home Rule Union at the National Liberal Club, London (24 February 1887), quoted in The Times (25 February 1887), p. 4
  • In answer to a question, Mr. Bryce said that if Scotch Home Rule meant that Scotland was to have such a complete constitution as Mr. Gladstone's Bill of 1886 proposed to give to Ireland, then he did not think that that was at all desirable and that Scotland wanted it. (Hisses and cheers.) At the same time he was bound to say that if Scotland did want it she was entitled to get it. (Loud cheers.)
    • Speech in the Albert Hall, Aberdeen (17 October 1887), quoted in The Times (18 October 1887), p. 7


  • The best justification for the despotic system described is to be found in the administration of British India. That administration is no doubt in some respects imperfect. ... But it is incomparably better than the administration of any subject territory by an alien and distant race of conquerors than has ever been before. It had in particular attained three great objects. It has established perfect internal peace and security through a vast area, much of which is still inhabited by wild tribes; it has secured a perfectly just administration of the law, civil as well as criminal, between all races and castes; and it has imbued the officials with a feeling that their first duty is to do their best for the welfare of the natives and to defend them against the rapacity of European adventurers. These things have been achieved by an efficiently organized Civil Service inspired by high traditions, kept apart from British party politics, and standing quite outside the prejudices, jealousies, and superstitions which sway the native mind. Only through despotic methods could that have been done for India which the English have done.
    • 'British Experience in the Government of Colonies', The Century (New York), 57, 5 (March 1899), pp. 718-728, quoted in The Times (27 February 1899), p. 7
  • [Bryce] expressed his cordial agreement with what Mr. Washington had said as to the importance of basing the progress of the coloured people of the South upon industrial training. Having made two or three visits to the South he had got an impression of the extreme complexity and difficulty of the problem which Mr. Washington was so nobly striving to solve. It was no wonder that it should be difficult seeing that the whites had such a long start of the coloured people in civilization. He believed that the general sentiment of white people was one of friendliness and a desire to help the negroes. The exercise of political rights and the attainment to equal citizenship must depend upon the quality of the people who exercised those rights, and the best thing the coloured people could do, therefore, was to endeavour to attain material prosperity by making themselves capable of prosecuting these trades and occupations which they began to learn in the days of slavery, and which now, after waiting for 20 years, they had begun to see were necessary to their well-being.
    • Speech at the reception for Booker T. Washington held in Essex Hall, Strand, London (3 July 1899), quoted in The Times (4 July 1899), p. 13


  • Whatever be the issue, one can dwell with unmixed satisfaction upon the absence among ourselves of any recrudescence of mediaeval intolerance towards a people whose peculiar defects are fairly chargeable upon what they have been forced in the past to suffer, whose possession of some peculiar merits cannot be denied, and who have made within recent times extraordinary contributions to learning and philosophy, to science and to one, at least, of the arts.
    • 'Preface' to C. Russell and H. S. Lewis, The Jew in London: A Study of Racial Character and Present-Day Conditions; Being Two Essays Prepared for the Toynbee Trustees (1900), pp. xvii-xviii
  • He had said from the first that the war had been a hideous blunder, and he had supported that opinion in the House of Commons. (Cheers.) ... Stop the farm-burning; it had been a great mistake and was against British ideas. (Cheers.) Recognize that they were dealing with men whose bravery and tenacity they could admire, and offer terms to the representatives of the two Republics and to the burghers who were now in arms.
    • Speech in the public baths of Caledonian Road, Islington, London (12 December 1900) against the Boer War, quoted in The Times (13 December 1900), p. 10
  • [T]here had been many changes in the national ideals in this country during the past 50 years. ... liberty, so far as it regarded political power, freedom of opinion, and freedom of action, was rather more in men's minds in the fifties as an essential element in the making of national happiness and well-being than it was in the present day. ... Republicanism was then a thing much talked of in England. It was curious to note how completely that had gone, and the discovery made that the true enemy of liberty and democracy was not a monarchy, but money, and the power that money exerted.
    • Speech to the Economic Students' Union at the School of Economics and Political Science, London (14 December 1900), quoted in The Times (17 December 1900), p. 13
  • With the old ideal of liberty there was a great and urgent passion for freedom of opinion and freedom of speech. In the present day we cared very much less for freedom of opinion as an element in our national life than we did in those days. But we ought always to be on our guard against giving the smallest encouragement to any attempt of any kind of any dominant party to put down the free expression of anything which was not criminal.
    • Speech to the Economic Students' Union at the School of Economics and Political Science, London (14 December 1900), quoted in The Times (17 December 1900), p. 13
  • One of the most remarkable changes was the extent to which indifference had come to prevail in matters of religious opinion. With regard to freedom of action, there would have been a stronger objection then than there was now in allowing the great majority of persons engaged in any particular trade to coerce the minority into their wishes. On the question of non-interference, he pointed out that the difficulties of laissez faire were now far more generally recognized than they were 40 or 50 years ago. For one reason or another there was now far less disposition to accept the doctrines of laissez faire than there was then, and they played a much smaller part in the ideal we formed of what was good for a nation.
    • Speech to the Economic Students' Union at the School of Economics and Political Science, London (14 December 1900), quoted in The Times (17 December 1900), p. 13
  • In those days it was thought that only through the principle of nationality could freedom be established, and here, again, the changes which had happened had made this ideal seem less needed than it was. The principle of nationality was held to make for peace and was quite consistent with cosmopolitanism, which played a leading part in conceptions of what was needed for the happiness of the world. There was rather more in the old ideals of the moral element and less of the material element than there was to-day; there was, too, rather more of a sanguine spirit, and the golden age seemed nearer then it seemed now.
    • Speech to the Economic Students' Union at the School of Economics and Political Science, London (14 December 1900), quoted in The Times (17 December 1900), p. 13
  • Having condemned the policy of severity which had been adopted with the object of bringing the [Boer] war to a conclusion, he said that it might be doubted whether anything short of the restoration of the independence of the two Republics—subject of course to a measure of British control—would have the effect of inducing the Boers to lay down their arms. The passion for independence was strong; it had been the cherished ideal of those people ever since they quitted Cape Colony and won the country for themselves. Our demand for unconditional surrender was a fatal blunder.
    • Speech to the Women's National Liberal Association Conference, Memorial Hall, London (12 June 1901), quoted in The Times (13 June 1901), p. 12
  • What was a reasonable offer? In the first place, there ought to be an amnesty. ... The second point in the terms should be a grant of money to rebuild the burned homesteads and restock the devastated farms. ... Nothing would do more to accelerate the return of peace and order than to give the people occupation and a chance of living. Then, it should be part of any reasonable offer to the Boers that there should be a speedy restoration of self-governing institutions.
    • Speech to the Women's National Liberal Association Conference, Memorial Hall, London (12 June 1901), quoted in The Times (13 June 1901), p. 12
  • The danger which threatened the natives in the future, at any rate in the mining districts, would arise from the desire to obtain a constant and cheap supply of native labour for the mines. It would be the duty of those in authority to guard the native against the oppressive laws which were in force in the Dutch Republics. In conclusion, he protested against a policy of harshness and violence in South Africa. We should try to inculcate forbearance, wisdom, and the generosity into the minds of those who had the government of the country.
    • Speech to the Women's National Liberal Association Conference, Memorial Hall, London (12 June 1901), quoted in The Times (13 June 1901), p. 12
  • He would admit that British landowners would benefit by a tax on foreign grain, because it would enable them to exact higher rents for the land. The British farmer would not benefit one penny. The manufacturer would lose by paying a much higher price for his materials and by paying higher wages, which was a part of Mr. Chamberlain's scheme... [T]he artisan would not gain unless his wages rose, and if his wages were raised certain branches of trade would cease, because they would not be able to compete against foreign competition.
    • Speech to a Liberal meeting in Tunbridge Wells (12 October 1903), quoted in The Times (13 October 1903), p. 5
  • [T]he Liberal party stands to-day firmly upon the ground which it has occupied during the last 60 years—namely, on the ground of free trade, peace, and good-will among the nations; that the Liberal party has the wish to apply that policy to Germany in like manner as to other peoples, and that the idea of using force as a means for meeting commercial competition is completely foreign to British Liberalism.
    • Letter to Theodor Barth, published in Die Nation, quoted in The Times (15 August 1905), p. 4


  • The United States are deemed all the world over to be pre-eminently the land of equality. This was the first feature which struck Europeans when they began, after the peace of 1815 had left them time to look beyond the Atlantic, to feel curious about the phenomena of a new society. This was the great theme of Tocqueville's description, and the starting-point of his speculations; this has been the most constant boast of the Americans themselves, who have believed their liberty more complete than that of any other people, because equality has been more fully blended with it.
    • The American Commonwealth: Volume II (1910), p. 810
  • In how many and which of these senses of the word does equality exist in the United States? Not as regards material conditions. Till about the middle of last century there were no great fortunes in America, few large fortunes, no poverty. Now there is some poverty (though only in a few places can it be called pauperism), many large fortunes, and a greater number of gigantic fortunes than in any other country of the world.
    • The American Commonwealth: Volume II (1910), pp. 810–811
  • [Bryce] thought she [Russia] was becoming a menace to Europe with her vast and rapidly increasing population and her also rapidly increasing prosperity. The Duma was no check on the ambitions of the official class. Germany, he thought, was right to arm and she would need every man.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott, as recorded in his diary (30 June 1914), in Trevor Wilson (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928 (1970), p. 88
  • [T]he learned had been at work in exploring the fields of history and philology. The origins of the several families of mankind were investigated and their affinities set forth. The old annals were edited and republished, the old poems popularised. The ancient exploits of the race were held up to admiration, and each people was supplied by historians and poets with fuel to feed the flame of national pride. It was all natural, and in one sense it was laudable. Men's souls are raised by the recollection of great deeds done by their forefathers. But the study of the past has its dangers when it makes men transfer past claims and past hatreds to the present. A sage friend remarked to me lately while we were discussing the complications of South-eastern Europe: "How much better if we could get rid of history altogether!" The learned men and the literary men, often themselves intoxicated by their own enthusiasms, never put their books to a worse use than when they filled each people with a conceit of its own super-eminent gifts and merits.
    • Race Sentiment as a Factor in History: A Lecture Delivered before the University of London on February 22, 1915 (1915), p. 31
  • That glorification of national virtues and achievements on which I have been dwelling, might at other times have been a harmless form of pleasure. But it came at a time of keen rivalry, when everything that tended to stimulate racial vanity was caught up and used by those statesmen and other leaders who sought to embark on policies of expansion and aggression even at the cost of rousing national jealousies or embittering national animosities. We all know how vanity may, in individual men, become a powerful spring of action, and intensify energy even while it disturbs the balance of judgment. It is the same with nations. When convinced of their own superiority they may wish to assert it by force, contemning their neighbours, and fancying that they hold a commission from Providence or Fate to improve the rest of the world against its will. As we see to-day that science has made war more hideous and terrible, so we must also confess that learning and literature have done something to prepare nations for war. A sounder learning and a deeper insight might have corrected this danger and taught the peoples that they have at least as much to gain by co-operation as by competition and more to gain from friendship than from hatred. But there is a faculty in man that is sometimes prone to choose the evil and reject the good
    • Race Sentiment as a Factor in History: A Lecture Delivered before the University of London on February 22, 1915 (1915), pp. 32-33
  • Let us repress the spirit of hatred. We are justly indignant at the way in which the enemy Powers have waged war. We trust that our victory will warn the world that such methods must never be resorted to again, and that those guilty of them will be punished. But is it wise to talk of banning a whole people for all time to come? The German people are under a harsh and tyrannous rule, which has not only deceived and misled them, but silences any protest—and there are those who wish to protest—against its crimes. Some day, we hope, they will overthrow it, when they have learnt the truth. To indulge revenge will be to sow the seeds of future wars. Nations cannot hate one another for ever, and the sooner they cease to do so the better for all of them. We must of course take all proper steps to defend ourselves in future from any dangers that might arise if after the war the enemy countries were to resume an insidious hostility. That is at present no more than a possibility which may never arise.
    • Speech ("The Church and International Relations") to the Autumnal Assembly of the Congregational Union of England and Wales in Birmingham (3 October 1916), quoted in The Times (4 October 1916), p. 5
  • Let us consult reason rather than passion. If severe terms have to be imposed, let that be done only so far as is necessary for securing future peace, not in the vindictive spirit which, in perpetuating hatreds, would end by relighting the flames of war. In settling the terms of peace, let us as far as possible respect the principles of nationality. Contentment and tranquillity are most to be expected where frontiers follow feelings. Can any international machinery be created after the war is over whereby the peoples that desire peace can league themselves to restrain aggression and compel a reference of controversies to arbitration or conciliation?
    • Speech ("The Church and International Relations") to the Autumnal Assembly of the Congregational Union of England and Wales in Birmingham (3 October 1916), quoted in The Times (4 October 1916), p. 5
  • [N]owhere in the world was there a higher idealism than that which possessed the American people... America in this war represented the conscience and judgment of the world.
    • Speech to a dinner of the Pilgrim's Club in the Savoy Hotel, quoted in The Times (13 April 1917), p. 8
  • [T]he Charter was demanded by those who complained of the irregular and arbitrary violence of King John, and the restrictions it imposed upon the Crown's action became the corner stone of English freedom. Its provisions, never repealed, though varied and to some extent amplified in subsequent instruments similarly extorted from subsequent monarchs, were solemnly reasserted in the famous declaration by Parliament in 1628 which we call the Petition of Right, and were finally re-enacted in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Thus the Charter of 1215 was the starting-point of the constitutional history of the English race, the first link in a long chain of constitutional instruments which have moulded men's minds and held together free governments not only in England but wherever the English race has gone and the English tongue is spoken.
    • 'Preface', Henry Elliot Malden (ed.), Magna Carta Commemoration Essays (1917), pp. xii-xiii
  • [P]erhaps may we find the chief contribution of England to political progress, in the doctrine of the supremacy of law over arbitrary power, in the steady assertion of the principle that every exercise of executive authority may be tested in a court of law to ascertain whether or no it infringes the rights of the subject... It was this guarantee of personal civil rights that most excited the admiration of Continental observers in the eighteenth century, and caused the British Constitution to be taken as the pattern which less fortunate countries should try to imitate. If it be said, and truly said, that this fundamental principle could not have been maintained in England without the assertion by the Parliaments of the fifteenth and, again more forcibly and persistently, by those of the seventeenth century, of control over the power of the Crown, it is to be remembered that their efforts might not have succeeded had not the earlier resistance to that power by the men who secured Magna Carta created and fostered in the minds of the upper and middle classes that firm and constant spirit of independence, that vigilant will to withstand the aggressions of the executive, which overthrew Charles the First and expelled James the Second.
    • 'Preface', Henry Elliot Malden (ed.), Magna Carta Commemoration Essays (1917), pp. xvi-xvii


  • What do you think of J. M. Keynes's book? ... The condemnation of the work of the Conference as a whole is none too severe. I remember few cases in history where negotiators might have done so much good, and have done so much evil.
    • Letter to C. P. Scott (20 January 1920), quoted in Trevor Wilson (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928 (1970), p. 380
  • I venture to hope that...the Government will approach the question with a desire to deal in the most liberal manner they can with Ireland, and to give her, if need be, more than justice requires, in order that we may bring about peace. That would be good policy in the long run.
  • When repeated experiments have failed, when every policy that has been proposed as a remedy for the ills of Ireland has been tried in succession and found wanting, is it not time to try some other experiment? I think the only experiment that can be tried is to make the Irish people masters of their own fortunes. Throw responsibility upon them, make them feel that it is to their interest to preserve law and order. Make them feel that the laws they are to obey are laws made by themselves, and that if they adopt a policy it will not be reversed by people sitting at Westminster, who have not that intimate knowledge of Irish conditions and wishes which can be possessed only by those who live in the midst of the people.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (15 December 1921)

Quotes about Bryce

  • No one in our time has contributed more largely to create and foster this temper between the two great kindred peoples than our distinguished Ambassador, now once more at home among us, Mr. Bryce.
    • H. H. Asquith on Bryce's role as Ambassador to the United States (1913), quoted in The Times (23 January 1922), p. 12
  • He was told that the day before Lord Bryce's death, the secretary of the academy received from him a type-written copy of a short notice which Lord Bryce had written with regard to the late Lord Reay... The last sentence of that notice...was:—"To his friends who thus saw him (in his later years) he will remain an unforgettable example of dignified strength and nobility of soul." That which was so happily written about Lord Reay was no less applicable to the man who wrote it.
    • Arthur Balfour, speech in Burlington House (23 February 1922), quoted in The Times (24 February 1922), p. 14
  • Although the work of a visitor, the reputation of The American Commonwealth has stood very high in the United States. It has been continually quoted as a standard authority by contemporary American historians, and was used as a text-book throughout the country for over thirty years. It is much better known there than in England. When Edward Lawrence Godkin of the New York Nation was asked by an English member of parliament whether he had ever heard of a book called The American Commonwealth he answered ‘You bet’.
    • E. I. Carlyle, 'Bryce, James, Viscount Bryce (1838–1922)', in J. R. H. Weaver (ed.), The Dictionary of National Biography, 1922–1930 (1937), p. 131
  • As ambassador at Washington, an office which he filled from February 1907 until April 1913, Bryce was particularly successful in gaining the approval of the American people and in becoming an American institution. Whenever he attended the Old Presbyterian church at Washington he was as a matter of course ushered into Abraham Lincoln's pew. ‘Old man Bryce is all right’ was the reputed verdict of a miner in Nevada, and this popular sentiment gave him power in that great democracy which does not allow itself to be governed by the opinions of its politicians.
    • E. I. Carlyle, 'Bryce, James, Viscount Bryce (1838–1922)', in J. R. H. Weaver (ed.), The Dictionary of National Biography, 1922–1930 (1937), p. 133
  • It is due to the memory of Lord Bryce to recall the fact that the name of the Commonwealth of Australia was suggested by his great work on the American Commonwealth. It lay constantly on the table of successive Federal Conventions, and was of the utmost service to members in framing the new Constitution.
  • The announcement of the death of Lord Bryce will carry sorrow into every home in America. He was sincerely loved in my country, intensely admired, and completely trusted. I think no Ambassador that has ever come to us achieved quite his measure of success. His penetrating and sympathetic insight into our life...was extraordinary in the last degree. His American Commonwealth became a text-book immediately upon its appearance, and is still unsurpassed as a treatise upon American political and social conditions.
    • Bainbridge Colby, statement to The Times (23 January 1922), quoted in The Times (24 January 1922), p. 11
  • To this day, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. This is strange, since the historical evidence of what happened is plentiful. Western observers like the US ambassador in Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau, wrote detailed reports about what was being done - including the telling statement of Mehmed Talaat Pasha, the Interior Minister, that all the Armenians had to perish because 'those who were innocent today might be guilty tomorrow'. Western missionaries too wrote harrowing accounts of what they witnessed. Their testimony formed an important part of the wartime report on 'The Treatment of the Armenians' compiled by Viscount Bryce, who had also investigated the German atrocities in Belgium in 1914.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 177
  • During the war three Committees were appointed in the French, British, and Italian Parliaments, with the idea that by meeting together they should promote unity, explain difficulties, and remove differences... Lord Bryce was the chairman of the British Committee, and was pre-eminent among us. In a series of remarkable speeches, delivered in fluent and scholarly French and Italian, he left upon all who heard him the indelible impression of a great European. His tact was of inestimable service in our social intercourse, and his caution and world-wide experience in our councils.
  • I regarded Lord Bryce as an old friend and a trusted counsellor to whom I could always turn, confident in the strength and wisdom of his advice, and my loss is one which will be shared not only by our own country and America, where he was so beloved and respected, but among all English-speaking people.
  • Lord Bryce's death will be deeply mourned everywhere in America, everywhere that democratic institutions are established and beloved, everywhere that the aspirations of the peoples lead them toward such institutions. His writings on American democracy enhanced America's introduction to the world and made mankind understand the great experiment this nation was undertaking. More than that, he gave us Americans the best vision of ourselves, because it represented the observations of the sincere friend and kindly critic... [I]n his latest work comparing the world democracies he performed a monumental service at precisely the right moment in behalf of the rightly guided evolution of popular institutions everywhere.
    • Warren G. Harding, statement to The Times (23 January 1922), quoted in The Times (24 January 1922), p. 11
  • In a fine letter to me in November last, "in these days," he says, "of darkness and confused groping," he recalls how we were inspired by hopes of "some 55 years ago in the struggle for social and political progress." And this spirit he maintained to the last. Of all his many qualities and gifts, that which impressed me most was his staunchness to principle, to colleagues, to righteousness.
  • The American Commonwealth appeared in 1888. It met with immediate and enthusiastic acclaim in two hemispheres, and during the half-century that followed, remained the classic work in the field... No other foreigner, indeed no American writer on American democracy, enjoyed so great a prestige, or wielded so great an influence in the United States as did Lord Bryce. Our language and history were also his, and he brought to his task a thorough knowledge of the English background in which, despite the "Frontier Theory," so many of the ideals and institutions of America are rooted.
    • William Ezra Lingelbach, 'American Democracy and European Interpreters', The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 61, No. 1 (January 1937), pp. 14-15
  • Bryce's picture of American democracy was much more nearly in accord with America's own ideas about itself. Although "originally written with a view to European rather than American readers," the work was widely read by the general public in the States, and studied by thousands of students in American colleges and universities, where the abridged edition became a standard textbook in classes on civics and comparative government. Hence Bryce interpreted American democracy not only to Europeans but to Americans themselves, contributing much toward shaping and formulating their philosophy and thought about their own government. The American Commonwealth passed through numerous editions, those of 1899 and 1910 representing thorough revisions in the light of new conditions. Altogether more than 166,000 copies of the work were sold in the United States.
    • William Ezra Lingelbach, 'American Democracy and European Interpreters', The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 61, No. 1 (January 1937), p. 17
  • In his penetrating analysis of the party system and the manner in which it functioned in state and municipal life, Bryce made a startling contribution to American politics. His exposé of the highly organized party machine with the political Boss at the top—ruthless, all powerful and often corrupt—was a revelation even to those who were fairly familiar with our political life. To many thoughtful Americans it was a challenge which did not go unheeded, and it is safe to say that America owes a great deal to Viscount Bryce for the steady improvement in municipal government during the last quarter of a century.
    • William Ezra Lingelbach, 'American Democracy and European Interpreters', The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 61, No. 1 (January 1937), pp. 17-18
  • Thoroughly convinced of the merits of the democratic form of government, Bryce was equally aware of its faults and dangers. These he exposed with a courage and an objectivity that aroused a great deal of enmity against him in this country. As time passed, this too disappeared, and the author of the American Commonwealth has become recognized as the ablest European interpreter of American institutions.
    • William Ezra Lingelbach, 'American Democracy and European Interpreters', The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 61, No. 1 (January 1937), p. 19
  • The amiable Bryce steadily exerts what influence he has here on behalf of the Pacifist crowd, who are really the tepid enemies of the Allies.
  • The loss suffered by England by his death, great though it was, was as nothing to the irreparable loss suffered by the Greeks and Armenians still living under the terrible yoke of Turkish oppression. His name had become known throughout the Near East as that of the greatest champion of the oppressed, and he was loved by them on account of the successful appeals he made on their behalf to the conscience of mankind.
    • John Stavridi, Greek Consul-General, speech to the service held in Bryce's memory in the Greek Church, Moscow Road, Bayswater (5 February 1922), quoted in The Times (6 February 1922), p. 7
  • I had a long and delightful friendship with Viscount Bryce. He was one of the most remarkable of men, the most accurate in his analysis, and actually encyclopaedic in his knowledge. His histories were admirable and his American Commonwealth is a monument to his ability, in the acquisition of facts and the organisation of them as a basis for the history of the country he had no equal. He was fond of the United States and stood as high in the estimation of Americans as he can have in that of his own fellow-countrymen. We had a real affection for him and a generous appreciation of how greatly he contributed to the maintenance of cordial relations between the two countries.
    • William Howard Taft, statement to The Times (23 January 1922), quoted in The Times (24 January 1922), p. 11
  • In February, 1907...he was appointed...Ambassador to the United States. ... It must be said that before that time his influence on American sentiment towards Great Britain had not been fortunate. ... His opinions on English politics were, for that time, of an extremely advanced, almost Republican type; and while this attitude of mind naturally commended him all the more to the sympathy of patriotic Americans, his language and views undoubtedly encouraged hostility to British monarchical and aristocratic institutions. Whatever harm he may have done, however, was nobly set off by his services as Ambassador.
    • The Times (23 February 1922), p. 12
  • Few men have had so long and so honourable a record of intellectual productivity. Nor have many men, certainly few of his generation, had more friends or been held in such high esteem by large circles in almost every country in the world. He spoke the principal European languages with ease; and to those who met him he appeared to have been everywhere, known everybody, and read everything.
    • The Times (23 February 1922), p. 12