Young Sam Johnson


Gilbert Walmsley. Letter to John Colson. March 2, 1737. Manuscript. MS Hyde 10 (732)

Johnson and his friend and former pupil David Garrick traveled from Lichfield to London in 1737, with Johnson hoping to get his yet-unfinished play Irene produced for the stage. With only one horse between them, they took turns riding and walking during a 120-mile journey that took several days. They carried with them this letter of introduction from one of Johnson’s most important mentors, Gilbert Walmsley (1680-1751). Walmsley wrote to Colson (1680-1759), who had agreed to take Garrick on at his school in Rochester, that "Johnson is a very great scholar & poet, & I have great hopes will turn out a fine tragedy writer."