ePub 版

on to Oxford, where he won many honors was made by Mr. Bryce, and during a and has left the memory of a most suc- part of his explorings he was absolutely cessful career, not merely as student, alone, as he could not prevail upon the but also as professor. He studied for a guides belonging to that region to overwhile at Heidelberg, where he cultivated come their superstitious dread of an intruto the full his previously acquired knowl- sion on certain parts of the mountain. edge of German ; and I have heard in He was always fond of travel and was later years on good authority that while able to bring some fresh ideas out of Bryce was a member of Mr. Gladstone's places long familiar to tourists, and he Government he became a great favorite gave to the world in English periodicals with Queen Victoria because of his ca- the results of his experiences as a travpacity for fluent speech in the language eler. His descriptions of Icelandic scenwhich the late Queen loved especially to ery and of some rarely visited regions of hear. Before he turned his attention to Hungary and of Poland have a genuine active political life Bryce studied for the literary as well as a genuine geographical bar, became a member of the profession, value. and actually practiced in the Law Courts His most important work, after his great for some years. Thus far, however, he history of the Holy Roman Empire, is had hardly given indication of the gifts undoubtedly his book on “The American which were destined to secure for him a Commonwealth,"published in 1888. This high and enduring place in English litera work has been read as generally and ture. Thus far his life may be regarded studied as closely on the one side of the as that of a student and a scholar; he Atlantic as on the other. I have heard it had yet to give to the world the fruits of spoken of with as thorough appreciation his scholarship. James Bryce is probably in New York, Boston, and Washington as above all things a scholar. He is, I may in London, Manchester, and Liverpool. venture to say, the most scholarly man in Many years have passed since an eminent the House of Commons. I doubt whether English public man, not now living, once there is in England so widely read a man expressed to me an earnest wish that some in all departments of literature, art, and European writer would take up the story science as Bryce, now that Lord Acton of the great American Commonwealth just has been removed from us ty death. where De Tocqueville left it in his “De Long before his entrance into Parliament la Démocratie en Amérique." I joined ary life Bryce had obtained the highest cordially in his ideas and his wishes, and distinction as a writer of history. It is we discussed the qualifications of certain not too much to say that his great histor- Englishmen for the task if any of them ical work, “ The Holy Roman Empire,” could see his way to undertake it, but is destined to be an English classic and a neither of us seemed to be quite satisfied book for all countries and all times. The that we had named the right man for the author could hardly add to the reputation work. At the time it did not occur to which he won by this masterpiece of his either of us that the historian of “ The torical study, insight, and labor, but it is Holy Roman Empire ” would be likely to only mere justice to say that every work turn his attention to the story of the of importance which he afterwards gave American Commonwealth. Indeed, the to the world has maintained his position two studies seemed to me so entirely difin literature. His turn of mind has been ferent and uncongenial that if the name always that which distinguishes the prac- of James Bryce had been suggested to me tical student-the student of realities, not at the time I should probably have put it the visionary or the dreamer, the man aside without much hesitation. One could who, according to Goethe's phrase, is hardly have looked for so much versatility occupied more by the physical than by even in Mr. Bryce as to favor the exthe metaphysical. In 1877 he published pectation that he could accomplish, with a narrative of his travels in Transcau- something like equal success, two historicasia, with an account of his ascent of cal works dealing with such totally differMount Ararat. I believe no other trav- ent subjects and requiring such different eler has ever accomplished such a prac- methods of analysis and contemplation. tical study of Mount Ararat as that which More lately still Mr. Bryce brought out his “Impressions of South Africa.” This that time his chief, the Secretary for book was published in 1897, and the time Foreign Affairs, was a member of the of its publication was most appropriate. House of Lords, and therefore the whole It appeared when the prospects of a war work of representing the department in with the Transvaal Republic were opening the House of Commons, where alone any gloomily for the lovers of peace and fair important debates on foreign questions are dealing in England. If Mr. Bryce's im- conducted, fell on Mr. Bryce, who had the pressions of South Africa could only have entire conduct of such discussions on behalf been appreciated, and allowed to have their of the administration. The department was just influence with the leaders of the Con- one which gave an effective opportunity servative party at that critical time, Engiand for the display of Bryce's intimate knowl might have been saved from a long and edge of foreign countries, and he acquitted futile war, and from much serious discredit himself with all the success which might in the general opinion of the civilized have been expected from one of his intelworld. But if Bryce had spoken with lect, his experience, and his enlightened the tongue of an angel, he could not at views. Later still he became Chancellor such a time have prevailed against the of the Duchy of Lancaster, and for the rising passion of Jingoism and the over- first time had a seat in the Cabinet. The mastering influence of mining speculators, Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster It is only right to say that the book was is one of a small order of English adminin no sense a mere distended political istrative offices which have comparatively pamphlet. It was not meant as a counter- unimportant duties attached to their special blast to Jingoism, or as a glorification of administration, and leave the man in posthe Boer Republic. It was a fair and session aniple time to lend his assistance, temperate statement of the author's obser- both in the Cabinet and in the House of vations in South Africa, and of the gen- Commons, to all the great public questions eral conclusions to which his experience which occupy the attention of the Governand his study had brought him. Bryce ment. In 1894 he became President of pointed out with perfect frankness the the Board of Trade, one of the most imdefects and dangers which he saw in the portant positions in any administration. Boer system of government, and even the Bryce's official career came to a close for most ferocious Jingo could hardly have the present when the Liberal party lost felt justified in describing the author by their majority in the representative chamthat most terrible epithet, a "pro-Boer.” ber, and the Conservatives got into power The warning which Bryce gave, and gave and secured the administrative position in vain, to the English Government and which they are holding at the present day. the English majority, was a warning Nothing can be more certain than that against the credulous acceptation of one the first really Liberal administration sided testimony, against the fond belief which is again formed will assign to Mr. that the proclamation of Imperialism car- Bryce one of the highest places in its ried with it the right to intervene in the Cabinet and in its work. Since he has affairs of every foreign State, and against come to sit on the benches of opposition the theory that troops and gold-mines he has taken part in many great debates, warrant any enterprise.

and is always listened to with the most The Parliamentary career of James profound attention. He is one of the few Bryce began in 1880, when he was elected leaders of the Liberal party who were as Liberal representative for a London manful and outspoken in their opposition constituency. He did great work in the to the policy which originated and carried cause of national education, and took an on the late South African war. He has important part in two State commissions taken a conspicuous part in every debate appointed to conduct inquiries into the upon subjects of foreign policy, of national working of the public schools. At a later education, and of political advancement. period he was chosen to represent a Scot- He has never acted as a mere partisan, tish constituency, and when Mr. Gladstone and his intervention in debate is all the came into power as the head of a govern- more influential as it is well understood ment he received the important office of that he advocates a policy because he Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. At believes it to be right and not because of

any effect it may have in bringing himself because Bryce is not one of the showy and his Liberal colleagues back again into and fascinating debaters whom everybody power.

wants to listen to for the mere eloquence I have often noticed the effect which is and fascination of their oratorical displays. produced in the libraries and committee- Everybody knows that when he speaks it rooms, in the rooms assigned to those is because he has something to say which who dine and to those who smoke, when ought to be spoken and therefore ought the news is passed round that Mr. Bryce is to be heard. It is known that Bryce will on his feet. A member who is reading not make a speech merely because he up some subject in the library, or writing thinks the time has come when some his letters in one of the lobbies, or enjoy- leader of Opposition ought to take part in ing himself in a dining-hall or a smok- the debate, if only to show that the Oppoing-room, is not likely to hurry away sition is attending to its business. from his occupation or his enjoyment in This command over the House Bryce order to rush into the debating chamber has always held since he became one merely because he is told that some lead- of its members, and no man can hold ing member of the Government or the a more desirable and a more honorOpposition has just begun to address the able position. It is all the more to House. The man who is addressing an his credit because he does not aim at audience in the debating chamber may mere originality and never makes it a hold an important office in the Govern part of his ambition to say something ment or may have an important place on astonishing and thus to excite and delight the Front Bench of Opposition, but then the mere curiosity of his audience. There he may be a personage who feels bound have been and still are many members of to take part in a debate merely because the House who have made a reputation of the position which he holds, and every of this kind and are therefore always sure one knows in advance what views he is to command a full attendance merely certain to advocate and what line of because everybody expects that when they argument he is likely to adopt, and our rise to their feet they are sure to make the reading or dining or smoking friend may House “ sit up,” if I may use this somenot think that there is any pressing neces- what colloquial, not to say vulgar, phrase. sity for his presence as a listener in the Take such a man, for instance, as the late House. But there are some leading men John Arthur Roebuck, a man of great on both sides of Mr. Speaker who are intellect, master of a peculiar style of always sure to have something to say eloquence, who made himself only too which everybody wants to hear, and Mr. often a splendid specimen of what might Bryce is unquestionably one of that hap- be called in American phraseology “a pily endowed order. When the word crank.” All that could be said with cergoes round that Bryce is up, everybody tainty beforehand of Roebuck was that knows that something will be said on whenever he rose to speak he would say which he cannot exactly calculate before- something calculated to startle or to hand, something which it is important puzzle the House. There are men of the that he should listen to, and there is same order, if not perhaps of quite the forth with a rush of members into the same debating qualifications, in the House debating chamber. There can hardly be at present-men who always draw a rush a higher tribute to a man's importance as of members when they rise to speak bea debater than the fact that his rising to cause nobody can tell in advance what address the House creates such an effect, side they are likely to advocate or what and I have seen it created again and again sort of bewildering paradox they may set whenever the news went round that up and make up interesting if not convinc“ Bryce is on his legs.” I have many ing by the force of their peculiar style of a time heard Conservative members mur- eloquence. Bryce is emphatically not a mur, in tones not altogether expressing man of this order. He is no lover of absolute satisfaction at the disturbing paradox; he has no desire to create a information, “Bryce is up-I must go sensation ; he merely wants to impress in and hear what he has to say." The the House with what he believes to be the tribute is all the higher in this case truth, and his great quality is that of a

beacon and not of a flashlight. His campaign and the Irish National claim arguments appeal to the intellect and the for Home Rule. Some of the men who reasoning power; he speaks of what he had held high office when Gladstone was knows; he has large resources of thought, in power, who had made themselves conexperience, and observation to draw upon, spicuous by the ardor and the eloquence and the listeners feel convinced before, with which they supported his policy of hand that he will tell them something which peace abroad and justice to Ireland, now they did not know already, or will put his openly avowed their renunciation of his case in some new and striking light. great principles. There were others among

The House of Commons well knows the foremost Liberals in the House of that it would lose one of its most valuable Commons who, if they did not thus openly instructors if Bryce were no longer to take the renegade part, kept themselves occupy a place on its benches or were to quietly out of the active political field and condemn himself to habitual inactivity allowed the movement of reaction to go and silence. When the Conservative on without a word of protest. Three at Government under Lord Salisbury came least among the Liberal leaders took a into power, and more especially after the very different course. Three of them, at late general election which brought them least, not merely nailed their colors to the back with added strength, many of the mast, but stood resolutely in fighting attiLiberal leaders seemed to have grown tude beneath the colors and proved themweary of the political struggle. Something selves determined to maintain the struggle. worse than mere apathy appeared to have These three men were Sir Henry Camp set in, something more than mere despond bell-Bannerman, John Morley, and James ency and disheartenment. Men on whom Bryce. There were others, too, it must the Liberals of England had long been be said, who stood up manfully with these wont to rely suddenly showed an apparent three in defense of that losing cause of loss of faith in all the proclaimed principles Liberalism which they could never be of the party, and either relapsed into utter brought to regard as a lost cause. But silence or spoke in language which sug- the dauntless three whom I have just gested an inclination to cross over to the mentioned were the most prominent and enemy's camp. The two principal im- the most influential who went forth against pulses to this mood of mind were the that great array of Toryism and Jingoism. South African war and the Irish Home Bryce was in his place as regularly as Rule question. The majority in the con- ever during the whole of that depressing stituencies had become inflamed with the time, and he never failed to raise his spirit of Jingoism, and could think of voice when the occasion demanded his nothing but the war and the Imperial intervention on behalf of the true princiglory of annexing new territory. Feeble ples and practices of Liberalism. During hearted and weak-kneed Liberals began that long, dreary, and disheartening seato think that the party could never hope son when despondent men were often for a return to power unless it too could disposed to ask whether there was any blow the Imperial trumpet. Other Lib- longer a Liberal party, Bryce made some erals made it manifest that they were of the ablest speeches he has ever delivered becoming alarmed by the unpopularity of in arraignment of the Jingo policy, of the the Home Rule question, and were repent. War Office maladministration, and the rule ing the enthusiasm which had carried of renewed coercion in Ireland. The them too far along the path marked out Liberal cause in England owes a debt by the genius and the patriotic resolve of that never can be forgotten to the three Gladstone. A species of dry-rot appeared men whom I have named, for their unto have broken out in Liberalism. Before finching resolve and activity in the House long a new section of Liberalism was of Commons; and of the three none did formed, the principle of which appeared better service than that which was rento be that its members should call them- dered by James Bryce. . selves Imperial Liberals, and at the same Bryce has, in face and form, the charactime should support the Tories on the teristics of a stalwart fighter. His fore only important questions then under dis- head is high and broad, with strongly cussion--the policy of the South African marked eyebrows, straightly drawn over

deep and penetrating eyes. The features and his earnest desire to maintain what he are all finely modeled, the nose is straight believes to be the right side of every great and statuesque, the hair is becoming some controversy have naturally brought him what thinner and more gray than it was into frequent antagonism with the reprewhen I first knew Mr. Bryce, but the sentatives of many an important cause, I mustache and beard, although they too do not know of any public man who has show some fading of color, are still thick made fewer enemies or is more generally and strong as in that past day. The face spoken of with respect and admiration. does not look Irish; its expression is per- A man must have very high conceit inhaps somewhat too sedate and resolute; deed of his own knowledge and his own but, on the other hand, it does not seem judgment who does not feel that he has quite Scotch, for there is at moments a a great deal to learn from conversation suggestion of dreaminess about it which with a master of so many subjects. Yet we do not usually associate with the Bryce never oppresses a listener, as some shrewd North Briton. Bryce is a man of intellectual leaders are apt to do, with a the most genial temperament, thoroughly sense of the listener's inferiority, and the companionable, and capable of enjoying least gifted among us is encouraged to every influence that helps to brighten express himself with frankness and freeexistence. Always a student of books and dom while discoursing with Bryce on any of men, he is never a recluse, and I do not question which happens to come up. I know of any one who seems to get more think that among his many remarkable out of life than does this philosophic his- qualities is that sincere belief which was torian, Bryce's London home is noted characteristic of Mr. Gladstone, and for for its hospitality, and his dinner parties which Gladstone did not always get due and evening parties give much delight to credit—the belief that every man, however his large circle of friends. Mr. and Mrs. moderate his intellectual qualifications, Bryce are not lion-hunters, and do not rate has something to tell which the wisest their friends according to the degree of would be the better for knowing. We celebrity which each may have obtained. must all of us have met scholars and But they have no need to engage in a hunt thinkers and political leaders whose inafter lions, for the celebrities seek them out born sense of their own capacity had an as a matter of course, and I know of no overbearing and even oppressive effect London house where one is more certain to on the ordinary mortal, and made him shy meet distinguished men and women from of expressing himself fully lest he should all parts of the civilized world. Bryce's only be displaying his ineptitude or his travels have made him acquainted with ignorance in such a presence. But there interesting and eminent persons every- is nothing of this to be observed in the where, and an admission to his circle is genial ways of James Bryce, and the lisnaturally sought by strangers who visit tener finds himself unconsciously brought London. Representatives of literature, for the time to the level of the master science, and art, of scholarly research, of and emboldened to give free utterance to political movement, and of traveled expe- his own ideas and opinions. rience are sure to be met with in the home Bryce has been made a member of most of the Bryces. I had the good fortune to of the great intellectual and educational meet there, for the first time, many distin- institutions of the world, has held degrees guished men and women whose acquaint- and honors of various kinds from the ance it was a high and memorable privilege universities of Europe and the United to make. Among Bryce's especial recrea- States, and could hardly travel anywhere tions is mountain-climbing, and he was abroad or at home without finding himself at one time President of the Alpine Club. in recognized association with some school He can converse upon all subjects, can of learning in every place where he makes give to every topic some illustration from a stay. The freemasonry of intellect and his own ideas and his own experiences, education all over the world gives him and the intelligent listener always finds rank among its members, and receives that he carries away something new and him with a welcome recognition wherever worthy of remembrance from any talk he goes. I presume that in the political with him. Although his strong opinions sphere of action he iş henceforward likely

« 上一頁繼續 »