The agitation which the queen underwent on the night of the 27th, when she dismissed Oxford after a long and fierce altercation, produced a marked change in her health. The Council was only terminated, having sat to consider who should be admitted into the new Ministry, by the queen falling into a swoon. Being got to bed, she passed the night, not in sleep, but in weeping. The next day another Council was held, but was again broken up by the illness of the queen, and was prorogued to the 29th of July. To Dr. Arbuthnot, her physician, Anne declared that the disputes of her Ministers had killed her; that she should never survive it. Lady Masham, struck by the queen's heavy and silent manner, apprehended the worst. Bolingbroke and his Jacobite colleagues were thunderstruck by this sudden crisis. They assembled in council at Kensington, in a room not far from that of the dying queen, but they were so stupefied by the blow that they could do nothing. On the other hand, the Whigs had been quite alert. Stanhope had made preparations to seize the Tower; to secure the persons of the Ministers and the leading Jacobites, if necessary, on the demise of the queen; to obtain possession of the outports, and proclaim the king. A proof of this concert was immediately given by the Dukes of Argyll and Somerset, who belonged to the Privy Council, but, of course, had not been summoned, suddenly entering the Council chamber, stating that, hearing of the queen's critical position, they had hastened, though not summoned, to offer their assistance. No sooner had they said this, than the Duke of Shrewsbury rose and thanked them for their courtesy. The Whig dukes immediately demanded that the queen's physicians should be called and examined as to her probable continuance. The physicians in general were of opinion that her Majesty might linger some time; but Dr. Mead declared that she could not live many days, perhaps not many hours; from the apoplectic symptoms she might be gone in one. Argyll and Somerset thereupon declared it absolutely necessary that the post of Lord Treasurer should be filled up, as it was requisite that, at such a moment, there should be a recognised Prime Minister, and proposed that the Duke of Shrewsbury should be nominated to that office. Bolingbroke felt that his power and his plans were at an end, and sat like one in a dream. The members of the Council then proceeded to the queen's apartment, and Bolingbroke followed them, as it were, mechanically. The queen was sensible enough to be made aware of their errand, and expressed her approval of it. Shrewsbury, however, with that singular hesitation which always characterised him, refused to take the White Staff, except from her Majesty's own hand. It was, therefore, handed to her, and she extended it towards Shrewsbury, saying, "For God's sake, use it for the good of my people!" Shrewsbury was already Chamberlain, and he presented the staff of that office in resignation of it; but the queen bade him retain both; and thus he was at once Lord Treasurer, Lord Chamberlain, and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

In 1817 the number of power-looms in Lancashire was estimated at 2,000, of which only about 1,000 were then in employment, and the wages had fallen below the rate at which goods could be produced by machinery. To the power-loom, therefore, the hand-loom weavers gradually gave way. In 1832 there were 80,000 power-looms in Lancashire, employing persons of both sexes and of all ages from nine years upwards, at rates of wages varying from half-a-crown to ten shillings a week. In 1817 the estimated number of persons employed in the spinning of cotton in Great Britain was 110,763, and the quantity of yarn produced was under 100,000,000 lbs.; in 1853 the yarn spun was nearly 700,000,000 lbs. In 1838 the total number of cotton factories in Great Britain and Ireland was 1,815, of which there were in England and Wales, 1,599; in Scotland, 192; in Ireland, 24. The total number of persons employed in these factories was 206,000, of whom 145,934 were females. The French had always beheld with jealousy our possession of the island of Minorca, which had been won by General Stanhope in 1708, and secured to us by the Peace of Utrecht. That England should possess the finest port in the Mediterranean, and that so near their own shores, was a subject of unceasing chagrin. The miserable administration of British affairs, the constant attention to the interests of Hanover instead of our own, now inspired France with the resolve to snatch the prize from us. Great preparations were made for this object, and the report of these as duly conveyed to the English Ministers by the consuls in both Spain and Italy, but in vain. At length the certainty that the French were about to sail for Minorca burst on the miserable Ministers; but it was too latethey had nothing in readiness. The port of Mahon was almost destitute of a garrison; the governor, Lord Tyrawley, was in England; and the deputy-governor, General Blakeney, though brave, as he had shown himself at the siege of Stirling, was old, nearly disabled by his infirmities, and deficient in troops. What was still worse, all the colonels were absent from the regiments stationed there, and other officers alsoaltogether thirty-five!

By the 8th of October Wellington was safely encamped within these impregnable lines, and the crowd of flying people sought refuge in Lisbon, or in the country around it. The British did not arrive a moment too soon, for Massena was close at their heels with his van; but he halted at Sobral for three days to allow of the coming up of his main body. This time was spent by the British in strengthening their position, already most formidable. The two ranges of mountains lying one behind the other were speedily occupied by the troops; and they were set to work at more completely stopping up roads, and constructing barriers, palisades, platforms, and wooden bridges leading into the works. For this purpose fifty thousand trees were allowed them, and all the space between Lisbon and these wonderful lines was one swarming scene of people bringing in materials and supplies. The right of the position was flanked by the Tagus, where the British fleet lay anchored, attended by a flotilla of gunboats, and a body of marines occupied the line of embarkation; Portuguese militia manned the Castle of St. Julian and the forts on the Tagus, and Lisbon itself was filled with armed bands of volunteers. There was no want of anything within this busy and interesting enclosure, for the British fleet had the command of the sea and all its means of supply. Seven thousand Portuguese peasantry were employed in bringing in and preparing the timber for the defences; and every soldier not positively on guard was enthusiastic in helping the engineers and artillery in the labour of making the lines impregnable.

The nobles rose in a body and quitted the Assembly; but Gustavus continued his speech to the three remaining Orders. He declared it necessary, for the salvation of the country, for him to assume almost despotic powers, and he called on the three Estates to support him in punishing the traitorous nobles, promising to secure the liberties of the country as soon as this was accomplished. Not only the three Orders, but the public at large zealously supported him. Stockholm was in a state of high excitement. Gustavus surrounded the houses of the chief nobility with his brave Dalecarlians; secured twenty-five of the principal nobles, including the Counts Brah, Fersen, Horne, and others, who were consigned to the castle. He had already arrested nine of the leaders of the insurrection in the army in Finland, and these officers were[353] now also confined in the castle; others had escaped and fled to their patroness in St. Petersburg. To intimidate the king, nearly all the officers of the army, the fleet, and the civil department threw up their commissions and appointments, believing that they should thus completely paralyse his proceedings. But Gustavus remained undaunted. He filled up the vacancies, as well as he could, from the other Orders of the State; he brought the nobles and officers to trial, and numbers of them were condemned to capital punishment, for treason and abandonment of their sworn duties. Some few examples were made; the rest, after a short confinement, were liberated, and they hastened to their estates in the country. But it was found there, as everywhere else, that rank confers no monopoly of talent. The three other Orders warmly supported Gustavus, and he remodelled the Diet, excluding from it almost all the most powerful nobles, and giving greater preponderance to the other three Orders. In return for this, these Orders sanctioned an act called the Act of Safety, which conferred on the king the same power which is attached to the British Crown, namely, that of making peace or war. They granted him liberal supplies, and he quickly raised an army of fifty thousand men. As he considered the reduction of the restless and lawless power of Russia was equally essential to Britain, Holland, and Prussia, as to Sweden, Gustavus called on them to second his efforts. But Pitt would do nothing more than guarantee the neutrality of Denmark; and even this guarantee he permitted to become nugatory, by allowing the Danish fleet to give protection to the Russian fleet in the Baltic. A second Russian squadron, commanded by Dessein, a French admiral, descended from Archangel, entered the Baltic, menaced Gothenburg, and by the aid of the Danish ships was enabled to join the other Russian fleet at Cronstadt.