used their determining vote first for a government of one opinion and then for a government of the contrary opinion.
I am not blaming this policy. I am using it merely as an illustration. I say that if we imagine this sort of action greatly exaggerated and greatly prolonged parliamentary government becomes impossible. If there are three parties, no two of which will steadily combine for mutual action, but of which the weakest gives a rapidly oscillating preference to the two others, the primary condition of a cabinet polity is not satisfied. We have not a parliament fit to choose; we cannot rely on the selection of a sufficiently permanent executive, because there is no fixity in the thoughts and feelings of the choosers.
Under every species of cabinet government, whether the royal or the unroyal, this defect can be cured in one way only. The moderate people of every party must combine to support the government which, on the whole, suits every party best. This is the mode in which Lord Palmerston’s administration has been lately maintained; a ministry in many ways defective, but more beneficially vigorous abroad, and more beneficially active at home, than the vast majority of English ministries. The moderate Conservatives and the moderate Radicals have maintained a steady government by a sufficiently coherent union with the moderate Whigs. Whether there is a king or no king, this preservative self-denial is the main force on which we must rely for the satisfactory continuance of a parliamentary government at this its