That the ‘lost leader’ was Wordsworth was confirmed by B. in later correspondence, most emphatically in a letter to Ruskin of 1 Feb. 1856: ‘Don’t tell that I thought of-who else but Wordsworth?’ (A Letter from Robert Browning to John Ruskin [ Waco 1958] n.p.). B. had met Wordsworth in 1835, after the publication of Paracelsus introduced him to the literary world, but the acquaintance did not develop. The poem may have been composed in reponse to Wordsworth’s first appearance at Court as Poet Laureate (25 Apr. 1845), when B. wrote sardonically to EBB. of the ridiculous figure which Wordsworth cut in Samuel Rogers’ ill-fitting court costume (28 May 1845, Correspondence x 246); EBB. first saw the poem in proof, calling it in her letter to B. of 21-22 Oct. 1845 one of ‘the new poems’ (ibid. xi 133-4; her comments rec. in the notes are from Wellesley MS ). However, B. might have withheld the poem until the last moment because EBB. did not share his hostility to Wordsworth (see below). On balance we prefer a date closer to the award of the Laureateship itself (Apr. 1843). In a fragment from a letter to R. H. Horne (now in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library; Collections E511, p. 445, though not there identified in connection with Horne), B. responds to Horne’s request for a suitable epigraph for the essay on Wordsworth and Leigh Hunt in Horne’s A New Spirit of the Age (1844) by quoting, for Wordsworth, PL x 441-54 (omitting l. 444), followed by a comment: ‘He, thro’ the midst unmarked, / In show plebeian angel militant / Of lowest order, passed: and from the door / [Of that Plutonian hall, invisible] / Ascended his high throne which, under state / Of richest texture spread, at the upper end / Was placed in regal lustre. Down awhile / He sat, and round about him saw unseen. / At last, as from a cloud, his fulgent head / And shape star-bright appeared, or brighter, clad / With what permissive glory since his Fall / Was left him, or false glitter. All amazed / At that so sudden blaze, the Stygian throng / Bent their aspect. (As Jeffrey does in the reprint of his review of the Excursion: this is too good a bit, I fear: take the kinder side of the matter and give him some or all of your own fine sonnet)’. Unsurprisingly, Horne did not use this passage, though he did adopt several of B.’s suggestions for other writers (see Correspondence viii 202-5). Since A New Spirit of the Age was published in March 1844, a date for the Berg letter of autumn/winter 1843 seems probable, and we date the poem to this period.