Palmerston is also celebrated for saying many memorable things about politics, including his remark about an up-and-coming politician nearly 50 years his junior. “Beware of that young man,” Palmerston told a friend about a young Conservative, Robert Cecil, who went on to three turns as prime minister. “He possesses one of the secrets of success,” Palmerston said, “for instead of defending himself and his cause, he attacks the other side.”

The GOP ought to ponder that observation as it considers its course as the “loyal opposition.” There is much talk today about the splits in the Republican Party, though similar rifts plague the Democrats. But the sharpest, deepest divide remains between the two parties. Rarely in recent memory has it been so clear. Rarely has there been less of a center. Republicans must focus all their energy on regaining the majority in Congress.

To do so, consult a third Victorian-era prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who believed in party loyalty. “It is not becoming in any Minister to decry party who has risen by party,” he declared. “We should always remember that if we were not partisans, we should not be Ministers.”