Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/496

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but he had not discovered either the cause or the cure of the evil.

The truth was that the change which the Revolution had made in the situation of the House of Commons had made another change necessary; and that other change had not yet taken place. There was parliamentary government; but there was no Ministry; and, without a Ministry, the working of a parliamentary government, such as ours, must always be unsteady and unsafe.

It is essential to our liberties that the House of Commons should exercise a control over all the departments of the executive administration. And yet it is evident that a crowd of five or six hundred people, even if they were intellectually much above the average of the members of the best Parliament, even if every one of them were a Burleigh, or a Sully, would be unfit for executive functions. It has been truly said that every large collection of human beings, however well educated, has a strong tendency to become a mob; and a country of which the Supreme Executive Council is a mob is surely in a perilous situation.

Happily a way has been found out in which the House of Commons can exercise a paramount influence over the executive government, without assuming functions such as can never be well discharged by a body so numerous and so variously composed. An institution which did not exist in the times, of the Plantagenets, of the Tudors or of the Stuarts, an institution not known to the law, an institution not mentioned in any statute, an institution of which such writers as De Lolme and Blackstone take no notice, began to exist a few years after the Revolution, grew rapidly into importance, became firmly established, and is now almost as essential a part of our polity as the Parliament itself. This institution is the Ministry.

The Ministry is, in fact, a committee of leading members of the two Houses. It is nominated by the Crown; but it consists exclusively of statesmen whose opinions on the pressing questions of the time agree, in the main, with the opinions of the majority of the House of Commons. Among the members of this