But I have not yet told you why the Peruvians ought to have expected an earthquake. True. I will tell you another time.
You want to know why the Spaniards in Peru and Ecuador should have expected an earthquake.
Because they had had so many already. The shaking of the ground in their country had gone on perpetually, till they had almost ceased to care about it, always hoping that no very heavy shock would come; and being, now and then, terribly mistaken.
For instance, in the province of Quito, in the year 1797, from thirty to forty thousand people were killed at once by an earthquake. One would have thought that warning enough: but the warning was not taken: and now, this very year, thousands more have been killed in the very same country, in the very same way.
They might have expected as much. For their towns are built, most of them, close to volcanos—some of the highest and most terrible in the world. And wherever there are volcanos there will be earthquakes. You may have earthquakes without volcanos, now and then; but volcanos without earthquakes, seldom or never.
How does that come to pass? Does a volcano make earthquakes? No; we may rather say that earthquakes are trying to make volcanos. For volcanos are the holes which the steam underground has burst open that it may escape into the air above. They are the chimneys of the great blast-furnaces underground, in which Madam How pounds and melts up the old rocks, to make them into new ones, and spread them out over the land above.
And are there many volcanos in the world? You have heard of Vesuvius, of course, in Italy; and Etna, in Sicily; and Hecla, in Iceland. And you have heard, too, of Kilauea, in the Sandwich Islands, and of Pele’s Hair—the yellow threads of lava, like fine spun glass, which are blown from off its pools of fire, and which the Sandwich Islanders believed to be the hair of a goddess who lived in the crater;—and you have read, too, I hope, in Miss Yonge’s Book of Golden Deeds, the noble story of the Christian chieftainess who, in order to persuade her subjects to become Christians also, went down into the crater and defied the goddess of the volcano, and came back unhurt and triumphant.
But if you look at the map, you will see that there are many, many more. Get Keith Johnston’s Physical Atlas from the schoolroom—of course it is there (for a schoolroom without a physical atlas is like a needle without an eye)—and look at the map which is called “Phenomena of Volcanic Action.”