The Jihad Begins
There is always a Cape Horn in one's life that either one weathers or wrecks one's self on. Thank God I think I may say I have weathered mine - not without a good deal of damage to spars and rigging though, for it blew deuced hard on the other side.
Huxley had rounded his Cape after three years of storms. Three years in a 'set-teeth sort of mood' which had left a permanent grimace; three years 'when Martin Luther's saying - "If there were as many devils as there are tiles upon the housetops, I will go"- was the only fit expression of my habitual temper'. 1 Now in 1854 one coup after another eased the grimace into a more pleasing grin.
The new year was icy enough for the Cape. In sub-zero temperatures the Thames froze and snow drifts paralysed even 'this monster of a city'. But 7 January saw a thaw and Huxley reached a post box to send Nettie a cheery update. The job front looked good. Wharton Jones was ending his stint as Fullerian Professor at the Royal Institution and Huxley was tipped to succeed him. That 'is £100 a year', he said. And Forbes was expected to be called away to Edinburgh. There the old professor, Robert Jameson, 50 years in the post, had withered into a 'baked mummy'. Now, 'too ill to lecture but too stubborn to retire', he was wished on his way. 2 Should Forbes go, Huxley anticipated his place in the Museum of Economic Geology. He knew the slips 'twixt cup and lip, but he was still a knot of excitement.
The thaw revealed his first Westminster number, already on the news-stands. It cheered Darwin. There was Huxley's review of his barnacle monographs, and praise for the recluse as brilliant 'an