John ‘Walking’ Stewart (Feb. 19th, 1747 – Feb. 20th, 1822): “I dig his style…”

by jonathonprince

Now I know I may seem like these 20 miles days don’t effect me that much, but they do. But this dude has ALL my respect!

Introducing: John “Walking” Stewart (19 February 1747 – 20 February 1822) was an English traveler and philosopher.

Known as ‘Walking’ Stewart to his contemporaries for having traveled on foot from Madras, India (where he worked as a clerk to the East India Company) back to Europe between 1765 and the mid 1790s. Stewart is thought to have walked alone across Persia, Abyssinia, Arabia and Africa before wandering into every European country as far east as Russia.

During his journeys, he developed a unique brand of materialist philosophy which combines elements of Spinozistic pantheism with yogic notions of a single indissoluble consciousness. Stewart began publicly to promote his ideas in 1790 with the publication of his treatise Travels over the most interesting parts of the Globe (London, 1790).

Over the next three decades Stewart wrote prolifically, publishing nearly thirty philosophical works, including The Opus Maximum (London, 1803) and the long verse-poem The Revelation of Nature (New York, 1795).

Stewart’s works are characterized by a naive arrogance, frequently asserting that their author is the ‘only child of nature’ to have ever lived. In 1796, George Washington‘s portrait painter, James Sharples, executed a pastel likeness of Stewart for a series of portraits which included such sitters as William Godwin, Joseph Priestley, and Humphry Davy, suggesting the intellectual esteem in which Stewart was once held.

After retiring from traveling, Stewart eventually settled in London where he held philosophical soirées and earned a reputation as one of the city’s celebrated eccentrics. He was often seen in public ways wearing a threadbare Armenian military uniform—a souvenir, one assumes, from his many adventures.

On 20 February 1822, the morning after his seventy-fifth birthday, ‘Walking’ Stewart’s body was found in a rented room in Northumberland Place, near present-day Trafalgar Square, London. An empty bottle of laudanum was lying beside him.

Source: Ajay Relan, Thanks Nupe via: Wikipedia.com – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_%22Walking%22_Stewart

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