Wordsworth's youthful political radicalism, unlike Coleridge's, never led him to rebel against his religious upbringing. He remarked in 1812 that he was willing to shed his blood for the established Church (of England), and his Ecclesiastical Sketches of 1822 represent a homage to tradition and to that church. This religious conservatism colors The Excursion (1814), a long poem that became extremely popular during the nineteenth century; it features three central characters, the Wanderer; the Solitary, who has experienced the hopes and miseries of the French Revolution; and the Pastor, who dominates the last third of the poem. Do you suspect that religious conservatism had a lot to do with his popularity, and can you recall anything from your reading which might support such an idea?

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000