"as she slew John Clare in a mad-house, and James Thomson by the laudanum he took to drug disappointment"
Engraving of John Clare by Scriven (1821)
Public DomainEngraving of John Clare by Scriven (1821) - Credit: Edward Scriven after William Hilton (1786-1839)

John Clare (1793-1864), the son of a farm labourer, was a poet renowned for his poetry about the English countryside.

He suffered from mental health problems and drank heavily. In 1837 he was committed to an asylum where he remained for most of the rest of his life, although he was able to continue with his writing.

Extract from The Badger:

When midnight comes a host of dogs and men

Go out and track the badger to his den,

And put a sack within the hole, and lie

Till the old grunting badger passes by.


James Thomson
Public DomainJames Thomson - Credit: unknown
Laudanum or Tincture of Opium
Public DomainLaudanum or Tincture of Opium - Credit: original uploader: Cyclone, Wikimedia Commons

James Thomson (1700-1748) was a Scottish poet and dramatist.

His best known work is The Seasons, written between 1725 and 1730. He was also the author of the lyrics of Rule Britannia.

Extract from The Seasons (Spring):

Come, gentle Spring, ethereal Mildness, come,

And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,

While music wakes around, veiled in a shower

Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.


Thomson was an opium/laudanum addict (laudanum is a mixture of opium and alcohol, and the form in which opium was available in Thomson's time) who had possibly been influenced by the positive picture of opium use painted by de Quincey in his Confessions of an English Opium Eater.