In "London, 1802," Wordsworth invokes the spirit of Milton in his savage indictment of contemporary England. At that time, England was changing rapidly, too rapidly for a lot of people, including Wordsworth himself. The country was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, which changed every aspect of society, especially the rural society that Wordsworth knew so well. Although the Industrial Revolution brought with it great wealth, it also created enormous poverty. Wordsworth believes that the headlong pursuit of wealth is damaging the moral fiber of the country, corrupting every aspect of society:
Altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness.
People are becoming more selfish, obsessed with the trappings of material wealth. This, in turn, is corrupting our very souls. What we need is to recover some of that old English virtue, so beautifully exemplified in the life and works of John Milton. He it was who constantly enjoined his fellow-countrymen to recognize virtue as the true precondition of national greatness; he it was who recognized that the exercise of liberty, be it of the economic or political variety, was utterly worthless if men did not live up to high moral standards.