The Revolution began in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille, Paris’s notorious prison where those who were seen as a threat to the state were kept, often in terrible conditions and without trial.
This was the first time that the leaders of a movement had been able to mobilise the urban working class to rise against the establishment of church and state. The motto of the Revolution was Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood, and it stood for ideas such as social justice, personal freedoms, and the idea that there were inalienable human rights, which defied class, wealth or gender. Wordsworth supported many of the ideals of the French Revolution and to do so could be dangerous. To speak or write in support was a criminal offence.
In the summer of 1797, while living in Somerset, Wordsworth and his friend and fellow poet Coleridge, were suspected of being French spies, but a government agent sent to investigate concluded that they were merely a mischievous gang of disaffected Englishmen.