From the City of the Dead
to the City of Science
P&O'S LINER WAS A far cry from the creaking, slack-canvas Rattlesnake. 'Fogs & calm' beset them but the sturdy steam pumps pushed them through. The Biscay swell was as horrid as ever, making the Malta 'very lively', and Huxley couldn't sleep. Past the Lisbon cliffs they ploughed, the last gale blowing them zoo miles in 16 hours into Gibraltar. He was on deck at 8 am. on a 'lovely morning', 16 January 1872, to see the Rock loom up.
Huxley began to revel in the leisure as he 'strolled into the market & devoured red oranges'. Then he presented his Admiralty letter and inspected the dockyard stores, only to find that 'nothing could be better in point of cleanliness & order'. 1 So he visited HMS Hercules, where the grumbling below deck about maggoty food was growing ominous. The flour was pure when it left Deptford, so he investigated the nearby sacks of cocoa and fruit, and finally traced the source of contamination: the moth eggs were being blown onto the flour from unpurified cocoa.
The former surgeon's relations with the top brass had equally changed. He was rowed over to the Minotaur to have breakfast with Rear-Admiral Hornby, commander of the Flying Squadron, whose warships could reach any trouble spot from Africa to India. Huxley enjoyed his new-found status, dining with colonial administrators and admirals. Hornby had him ferried to Tangier with the Bishop of Gibraltar. A week out and what a difference: he was 'wandering about Tangier', watching the Moors. His was a more admiring eye now, like Burton's, looking favourably on the Muslims in defiance of his own idolatrous culture. As he painted mosques his eye would catch 'a stately moor' wearing his Haik 'exactly in the manner of the