Peace of Utrecht - Death of Queen Anne
The members of the cabinet applied themselves, though very secretly, to the business of bringing about a peace. When their plans were matured, the consent of the House of Commons was easily gained; but the Lords having shown some reluctance, it was found necessary to create twelve new peers, in order to overpower the sense of that part of the legislature. After a tedious course of negotiation, Britain and Holland concluded a peace at Utrecht (1718), leaving the emperor of Germany still at war. By this arrangement, Philip V was permitted to retain Spain and the Indies, but no other part of the dominions which his ambitious grandfather had endeavored to secure for him; and it was provided that he and his descendants should never inherit the kingdom of France, nor any future king of France accede to the crown of Spain.
Britain obtained nothing tangible by all her exertions, except the possess ion of Gibraltar and Minorca, and the privilege of being exclusively employed to carry slaves to the Spanish American colonies. It has justly been considered a stain upon the nation, that it should have concluded a separate peace under such clandestine circumstances, as the interests of the other belligerent parties were thereby greatly injured. For the gratification of their High Church supporters, the ministers obtained an act for preventing dissenters from keeping schools, and another for establishing church patronage in Scotland, the former of which was repealed in the following reign.
It is believed that Queen Anne and her Tory ministers were in secret willing to promote the restoration of the main line of the Stuart family, and Harley and St. John are now known to have intrigued for that purpose. But before any plan could be formed, the queen took suddenly ill and died (August 1, 1714), when the ministers had no alternative but to proceed according to the Act of Settlement. The Electress Sophia being recently dead, her son, the elector, was proclaimed under the title of GEORGE I.
The reign of Queen Anne is not more distinguished by the wonderful series of victories gained by Marlborough, than by the brilliant list of literary men who now flourished, and who have caused this to be styled the Augustan age of English literature, as resembling that of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Alexander Pope stands unrivaled in polished verse on moral subjects. Jonathan Swift is a miscellaneous writer of singular vigor and an extraordinary kind of humor. Joseph Addison wrote on familiar life and on moral and critical subjects with a degree of elegance before un known. Sir Richard Steele was a lively writer of miscellaneous essays. This last author, with assistance from Addison and others, set on foot the 'Tatler,' 'Spectator,' and 'Guardian,' the earliest examples of small periodical papers in England, and which continue to this day to be regarded as standard works. Cibber, Congreve, Vanburgh, and Farquhar, were distinguished writers of comedy; and Prior, Philips, and Rowe, were pleasing poets. In graver literature, this age is not less eminent. Dr. Berkeley shines as a metaphysician; Drs. Sherlock, Atterbury, and Clark as divines and Bentley as a critic of the Roman classics.