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On A Volcanic Peak
by [?]

None knows at what time the peak of Chahorra and the great peak were truly active. But obviously the final peak itself was the result of a last great eruption. Perhaps the old crater had been quiescent for thousands of years, and then it worked a little and threw up El Teyde. At some other time Chahorra rose. At another period, in historic times, the volcano above Garachico, even now smoking bravely, sent its lava into Garachico’s harbour and destroyed it. But the last peak as it stands is the work of two periods of activity at least. The first great slope ends at another flat called the Rambleta. Here was once an ancient crater. Then the fires quietened, and there was a time of lesser activity. It woke again, and threw up the last weary ash-cone of a thousand feet or near it.

All things die, but who shall say when a volcano has done its worst? A quiet Vesuvius slew its thousands: Etna its tens of thousands. Some day perhaps Teneriffe will wake again, either in earthquakes or lava-flow, and cause a Casamicciola or a Catania. The cones over against Garachico seemed much alive to me, and had I not warmed frozen hands at the very earth fires themselves? I broke out hot sulphur with the pick of my ice-axe. Icod of the Vines, or Orotava itself, port and villa, might some day wake to such a day as that which has smitten St Pierre in fiery Martinique.

Once all the quiet seas were unbroken by their seven islands–Hierro, Palma, Gomera, Teneriffe, Grand Canary, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote lay beneath the waters of the smiling ocean. Even now they smell of fire and the furnace; in the most fruitful vineyards of Grand Canary the soil is half cinders. In all the islands vast cinder heaps rise black and forbidding. Lava streams, in which the poisonous euphorbia alone can grow, thrust themselves like great dykes among fertile lands. The very sands of the sea are powdered pumice and black volcanic dust. One of the greatest craters of the world holds within itself great parts of wooded Palma. On dead volcanoes are the petty batteries of Spain over against Las Palmas. There is something strange and almost pathetic in the thought of guns raised where Nature once thundered dreadfully in the barren sunlit Isleta.

But of all the islands and of all parts of them, the Peak, shining over clouds and visible from far seas, is the king and chief. I left its fiery summit with a certain reluctance. It attracted me strangely. It represented, feebly enough, I daresay, the greatest of all elemental forces. Yet its faint fires and its smoke and sulphur fumes had all the power of a mighty symbol. By such means, by such a formula, had the very world itself been made. Though snow lay upon its slopes and ice bound ancient blocks of lava together, it might at any hour awake again and renew the terrors which once must have floated over the seas in a gust of flame.