Advertisement

Catching Up with Walking Stewart

  • Tom MoleEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747–1822) was a remarkable figure of the Romantic period, and one who has been almost entirely forgotten. In his seventy-five years, Stewart walked across most of the known world, tramping from India to England, detouring into Africa, travelling as far east as Russia and as far north as Lapland, and crossing the Atlantic to walk around North America. Along the way, he formulated an eccentric but fascinating philosophy, articulated in a slew of self-published books. Thomas De Quincey called him ‘a sublime visionary’ whose ‘mind was a mirror of the sentient universe’. This essay recovers some of Stewart’s key ideas from his writings while locating him in London, where he ended his days. The time is ripe to reassess Stewart’s writings because they speak to current aspirations to develop a global account of Romanticism, and to evolve a non-anthropocentric ontology. This essay therefore suggests how Stewart’s ideas resonate in the present.

Works Cited

  1. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 2015 [1948]. The Cost of Discipleship. Trans. R. H. Fuller. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  2. [Brande, William]. 1822. The Life and Adventures of the Celebrated Walking Stewart: Including His Travels in the East Indies, Turkey, Germany and America. London: E. Wheatley.Google Scholar
  3. Cox, Jeffrey. 2014. Romanticism in the Shadow of War: Literary Culture in the Napoleonic War Years. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. De Quincey, Thomas. 1823. Walking Stewart. London Magazine, VIII (September), 253–60. In: The Works of Thomas De Quincey, 21 vols. Ed. Greville Lindop, 2000–03, vol. 3: 132–42. London: Pickering and Chatto.Google Scholar
  5. Gros, Frédéric. 2014. A Philosophy of Walking. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  6. Grovier, Kelly. 1998. John Stewart and the Burying of Books in Wordsworth’s Prelude. Notes and Queries, 45: 189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. _____. 2005. ‘Shades of the Prison-House’: ‘Walking’ Stewart, Michel Foucault and the Making of Wordsworth’s ‘Two Consciousnesses’. Studies in Romanticism, 44: 341–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ———. 2007. Dream Walker: A Wordsworth Mystery Solved. Romanticism, 13: 156–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. _____. 2008. ‘Paradoxes of the Panoscope’: ‘Walking’ Stewart and the Making of Keats’s Ambivalent Imagination. Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 52.Google Scholar
  10. _____. 2012. No Visions. Review of Pamela Clemit, ed., The Letters of William Godwin, vol. 1. Times Literary Supplement, March 2.Google Scholar
  11. Hazlitt, William. 1998. My First Acquaintance with Poets. In: The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, 9 vols. Ed. Duncan Wu, vol. 9: 95–109. London: Pickering and Chatto.Google Scholar
  12. Jones, Ewan James. 2015. John ‘Walking’ Stewart and the Ethics of Motion. Romanticism 21: 119–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pearce, William. 1793. Hartford Bridge: or, the Skirts of the Camp. London: T. N. Longman.Google Scholar
  14. [Reynolds, John Hamilton]. 1822. ‘Walking Stewart’. London Magazine 6: 410–11.Google Scholar
  15. Salt, Henry. 1891. Walking Stewart (A Sketch of an Eccentric Pedestrian). Temple Bar 93: 574–78.Google Scholar
  16. Stewart, John. 1777. An Account of the Kingdom of Thibet: In a Letter from John Stewart to Sir John Pringle. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 67: 465–92.Google Scholar
  17. _____. [1790]. The Apocalypse of Nature; wherein the Source of Moral Motion Is Discovered. London: J. Ridgway.Google Scholar
  18. _____. 1790. The Revelation of Nature. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  19. [Stewart, John]. 1790. Travels Over the Most Interesting Parts of the Globe, to Discover the Source of Moral Motion. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  20. _____. 1794. The Tocsin of Britannia, with a Novel Plan for a Constitutional Army. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  21. _____. 1794. Second Peal of the Tocsin of Britannia; or, Alarm Bell of Britons; with Plans of National Armament, and National Defence, Addressed to the British Yeomanry. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  22. _____. 1795. The Revelation of Nature, with the Prophecy of Reason. New York: for the author.Google Scholar
  23. _____. 1810. The Moral or Intellectual Last Will and Testament of John Stewart, The Traveller, the Only Man of Nature That Ever Appeared in the World, 2 vols. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  24. _____. 1812. The Book of Nature: in the 7000th Year of Astronomical History from the Chinese Tables, and the First Day of Intellectual Life or Moral World. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  25. _____. 1815. The Sophiometer: or, Regulator of Mental Power. London: for the author.Google Scholar
  26. Symonds, Barry. 2004. ‘Stewart, John (1747–1822)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: University Press. Online edn.:  https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/26494. Accessed 12 December 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations