Cecil Spring Rice

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"No ambassador has ever had to discharge duties of greater delicacy or of more far reaching importance than fell to his lot. Nor has any ambassador ever fulfilled his task with more unwearied vigilance, conspicuous ability and ultimate success."

Writings and friendships

Spring Rice maintained a close friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt and served as best man at his second wedding. President Roosevelt - Pach Bros.jpg
Spring Rice maintained a close friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt and served as best man at his second wedding.

Spring Rice was a poet throughout his adult life. [3] In 1918, he rewrote the words of his most notable poem, Urbs Dei (The City of God) or The Two Fatherlands, to become the text for the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country . The hymn was first performed in 1925, after Spring Rice's death and has since become a widely recognised British anthem. His poetry was published in the 1922 edition of Poems of Today , and has since been published in several other poetry collections.

He became acquainted with Theodore Roosevelt on a trans-Atlantic crossing from New York in 1886, and the two men quickly became close friends and confidants. He has been described as "one of President Theodore Roosevelt's most ardent and loyal admirers" [35] and acted as Roosevelt's best man in Roosevelt's wedding to Edith Carow. [2] Roosevelt became the godfather of Spring Rice's son in 1908. Spring Rice memorably remarked about Roosevelt: "You must always remember that the president is about six". [36] The two men continued to write to each other until Spring Rice's death, and their close relationship undoubtedly added to the latter's diplomatic clout in the US.

He was a close friend of Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol, a British journalist and later diplomat, and Ronald Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar, with whom he corresponded for many years. [37] One of his closest political friends was the Irish nationalist, John Dillon; his unwavering sense of duty attempted to overcome his sister's very public espousal of nationalist causes and friendships within the hierarchy of Sinn Féin. The personal moral overtones and private contradictions failed to dent an overwhelming sense of obligation to the British Empire. However it may have informed his uneasy relationship with the Balfour Mission. [38]

A fluent speaker of Persian (as well as German and French), Spring Rice was responsible for translating numerous Persian poems into English. Spring Rice's letters and poems were collected together by his daughter, Lady Arthur, and many are now held by The National Archives. Further papers, relating to his diplomatic postings, and diaries of his travels in Japan, are held by the Churchill Archives Centre. [39]

Honours and legacy

The memorial plaque to Sir Cecil Spring Rice on the lower bridge at Aira Force, Cumbria. Cecil Spring Rice memorial plaque, Aira Force.jpg
The memorial plaque to Sir Cecil Spring Rice on the lower bridge at Aira Force, Cumbria.

Spring Rice was appointed a Knight Commander Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George on 29 June 1906 [40] and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on 17 November 1908. [41] In 1906 he was made a Grand Cordon of Order of the Medjidie. In 1912 he was made a Commander (1st Class) of the Order of the Polar Star and he was made a member of the Imperial Privy Council on 7 March 1913. [42] Spring Rice was going to be offered a peerage upon his return to the United Kingdom, but died before the honour could be proposed.

In his will he left money to Balliol College to found the Cecil Spring Rice Memorial Fund which funds the learning of languages by students who intend to join the diplomatic service. Before his death, Spring Rice gave substantial funds for repairs to be carried out on St Peter and St Paul's Church, Lavenham, the ancestral church of the Spring family. [43]


Shortly after his death, Spring Rice's family, friends and colleagues erected a bridge to his memory over the waterfall at Aira Force, near his childhood home on Ullswater. All Saints Church, Watermillock, contains a stone memorial tablet to Spring Rice.

In July 2013 a memorial was unveiled by Cecil Spring Rice's granddaughter, Caroline Kenny, at Spring Rice's graveside in Ottawa. The grave was cleaned up and a memorial plaque and ceremony was organised by the then British Consul, Ashley Prime, working in Toronto with support from the Freeman of the City of London (North America). [7] Mount Spring-Rice in British Columbia was named after Spring Rice in 1918 by surveyor Arthur Wheeler.

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Roosevelt's Contemporaries: Cecil Spring Rice Archived 8 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Theodore Roosevelt Center (7 April 2014). Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Burton, David Henry (1990). Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. ISBN   978-0-8386-3395-3.
  4. Oxford University Calendar 1895, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1895 : 232, 329
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  6. Mosley, Leonard (1961). Curzon: The End of an Epoch . Longmans, Green, and Co. p.  43.
  7. 1 2 Simon, Bernard (31 May 2013). "This memorial is poetic justice for Sir Cecil Spring-Rice". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  8. Gwynn 1929, pp. 36–38 (Volume I).
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  10. Gwynn 1929, p. 125 (Volume I).
  11. Gwynn 1929, pp. 178–256 (Volume I).
  12. Gwynn 1929, p. 256 (Volume I).
  13. "Court Circular". The Times. No. 36085. London. 9 March 1900. p. 6.
  14. "No. 27387". The London Gazette . 13 December 1901. p. 8834.
  15. Gwynn 1929, p. 441 (Volume I).
  16. Gwynn 1929, p. 126 (Volume II).
  17. Gwynn 1929, p. 139 (Volume II).
  18. Patrick Salmon, Scandinavia and the Great Powers 1890-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 43.
  19. Gwynn 1929, pp. 178 (Volume II).
  20. Stephen Hartley, Licínia Simão, The Irish Question as a Problem in British Foreign Policy, 1914–18 (Springer, 1987), p. 45 (Retrieved 25 July 2016).
  21. /ref>"absolutely irreplaceable supplies", Cabinet Papers, 41/23/7
  22. Kathleen Burk, Britain, America and the Sinews of War 1914–1918 (Routledge, 2014), p. 18 (Retrieved 25 July 2016).
  23. The Board of Management, "The Bulletin of the Federal Reserve" - for warnings to US Treasury and Wall Street against investing in foreign Treasury bills;
  24. Greg Kennedy (2016). Britain's War At Sea, 1914-1918: The war they thought and the war they fought. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN   978-1-317-17221-5.
  25. Kathleen Burk, Britain, America and the Sinews of War 1914–1918 (Routledge, 2014), p. 17 (Retrieved 25 July 2016).
  26. Strachan 2001 , p. 800
  27. Strachan 2001 , p. 804
  28. Gwynn 1929, p. 426 (Volume II).
  29. Gwynn 1929, p. 435 (Volume II).
  30. "Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador at Washington, is coming home on leave". The Spectator. London. 12 January 1918. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  31. Morris, Edmund (2001). The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Kindle ed.). 7271 of 20280 (p. 357): Modern Library. ISBN   978-0-307-77782-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  32. Gwynn 1929, p. 213 (Volume II).
  33. Gwynn 1929, p. 352 (Volume II).
  34. Gwynn 1929, p. 436 (Volume II).
  35. Morris, Edmund (2001). The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Kindle ed.). 7265 of 20280 (Page 356): Modern Library. ISBN   978-0-307-77782-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  36. Morris, Edmund (2001). The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Kindle ed.). 366 of 20280: Modern Library. ISBN   978-0-307-77782-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  37. "Sir Cecil Spring Rice". The Spectator. London. 12 October 1929. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  38. British Sinews of War, pp. 7–9
  39. "Collection: The Papers of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice". Churchill Archives Centre, ArchiveSearch. Archived from the original on 30 September 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  40. "No. 27926". The London Gazette . 26 June 1906. p. 4461.
  41. "No. 28199". The London Gazette . 24 November 1908. p. 8698.
  42. "No. 28697". The London Gazette . 7 March 1913. p. 1749.
  43. Philip J. Turner, 'Romance of a Wool Merchant' (Homecraft Publications Limited, Canada, 1936)


Sir Cecil Spring Rice
Cecil Spring-Rice.png
British Ambassador to the United States
In office
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by British Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Preceded by British Ambassador to Sweden
Succeeded by
Preceded by British Ambassador to Persia
Succeeded by