Christ Was No Christian
HEART TROUBLE CONDEMNED old Huxley 'to the life of a prize pig': 'corporeal stuffing with meat and drink' and 'as few manifestations of intelligence as possible'. In 1888 he was at last forced to take it easy. That January came another warning, a second dose of pleurisy, which left him gasping and as 'melancholy as a pelican in the wilderness'. 'Bellows very creaky', he reported to Hooker. 1 His doctor, George Hames, ordered him out of London's smog to Bournemouth, and thus began the great cosmopolite's final exile.
They were all fleeing in their own ways. Jack left for Egypt, supported by Fred Waller and Harry, where he was to sublimate his grief in temple sketches for his painting of 'The Death of Cleopatra'. Nettie pored over Mady's childhood letters, retreating into the past, where she was 'quite happy'. Torn from the Good and Great, a croaky Hal vowed to attend no more banquets. He resigned his last posts - the governorships of those diametric bulwarks of his educational empire, Eton and University College. In maudlin mood he would 'jog along the declining path of life'. He hardly needed Nettie's confirmation that 'Old age is not exhilarating'. 2
He remained the figurehead President of the Marine Biological Association long enough to see a fine Marine Laboratory built on Citadel Hill overlooking Plymouth Sound. 3 That too took him back to old Plymouth and his Rattlesnake adventure. London officialdom was now like the outback's snagging vines; having cut them with a machete chop, he was free to roam as a cultural ambassador for science.
When he could roam, that is. He was confined to his seaside digs through the Spring, coughing, the 'dreadful oppression' of his lungs lifting only slowly. The 'hermit life' depressed him, away from the