The letters are printed in Boyer, 699–700). The elector, now heir-at-law to the throne, answered courteously, but not in such a way as to reassure the queen, though the electoral prince was profuse in his apologies; and the silly Earl of Clarendon was sent to Hanover to see that the dreaded project remained unexecuted.
The ascendency of Bolingbroke over Oxford, which to Bothmar seemed evident from the selection of Clarendon as envoy to Hanover (Original Papers, ii. 626), showed itself also by other signs. Thus in domestic affairs the introduction of the schism bill (May), which the whigs vainly opposed in the lords, marks the climax of the high-church intolerance of Queen Anne's reign; and of this intolerance it suited Bolingbroke to pose as the champion. Oxford was unable to put a check upon him either in this matter or in those administrative measures of which the consequences might be more personally disastrous to their authors. (As to the measures said to have been taken shortly before the queen's death for securing the obedience of the troops, see a curious draft of a memorial from Stair to Marlborough in Miscellaneous State Papers, ii. 522–524). Unable either to satisfy the tories or to keep a door open towards the whigs, Oxford had already in June offered his resignation to the queen, but she had declined it. Early in July, however, Swift was told that his patron's fall was near, and on the 27th Oxford himself announced it as impending for the following day. On the 29th Lady Masham, who, according to Swift's correspondent Ford, had never been in higher credit with the queen, confirmed the news of the downfall of the partner and director of her old intrigues. Her letter dwells on Oxford's ingratitude to her dear mistress, whom he had teased and vexed for three weeks, and had thus probably caused the illness from which she was now suffering. There cannot, she declares, be a greater object for compassionate help than ‘this good lady.’ Another of Swift's correspondents (Erasmus Lewis) informs him that the queen had told all the lords that Oxford was negligent, ‘seldom to be understood,’ untrustworthy, unpunctual, ill-mannered, and disrespectful (Letters, ii. 45, 49, 68–71).
The queen, who had closed the session of parliament on 9 July with a speech implying reproof of factiousness, and again omitting all reference to the house of Hanover (Wentworth Papers, 401), had of late seemed stronger; on 12 June Arbuthnot described her to Swift as in good health (Letters, ii. 33; cf. Wentworth Papers, 386, 387). But there was no real hope of her days being many; the importance of the arrangements to be made after Oxford's dismissal was manifest; and the sense of responsibility which weighed upon those concerned seems to have been overwhelming. On the night of 27 July, after Oxford had resigned his office, the queen presided over a long-protracted cabinet council. Instead of the lord treasurer's staff being given to Bolingbroke, it was resolved to put the treasury into commission; but the choice of the members of the commission proved too difficult a matter to settle before the cabinet separated at two o'clock in the night. Next morning, the 28th, the queen was reported too ill to attend to business, and the meeting was postponed to the following day. On the 29th, after being cupped, she seemed better; but on the 30th, in the morning, a fit which the doctors considered to be apoplexy, and treated accordingly, rendered her insensible for nearly two hours. The Duchess of Ormond, who was in waiting, sent word to her husband, who was in deliberation at the Cockpit with the other members of the cabinet, including the Duke of Shrewsbury. They at once repaired to Kensington, where the queen lay. According to one account, of which Swift's correspondent Ford disputes the correctness, the Dukes of Somerset and Argyll, who had with many other persons likewise hastened to Kensington, entered the room where the cabinet was assembled, and took part in the deliberations which followed. Their names were still on the privy council list, and by their presence the cabinet (at that time no very distinctly defined body) virtually became a privy council. The physicians in attendance having been called upon to give their opinions as to the condition of the queen, Sir Richard Blackmore, Dr. Shadwell, and Dr. Mead seem to have agreed that her case was desperate, the last-named (a whig) thinking that death would be immediate. Arbuthnot, on the other hand, appears to have suggested a rather more hopeful view of the case, though privately sharing the alarm of his colleagues (see Wentworth Papers, 407). The physicians at the same time declared that the queen might be spoken to; and it must have been hereupon that ‘one of the council,’ said by Ford to have been Bolingbroke, proposed that Shrewsbury should be recommended to her as lord treasurer. The lords were admitted to the queen's chamber, where Bolingbroke stated to her the recommendation upon which the council had agreed. She at once placed the staff in Shrewsbury's hands. This