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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
In the recently published“ Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,” edited by his son Mr. Francis Darwin (vol. iii. p. 188), the following passage occurs :
“In the spring of this year (1874) he (Mr. Darwin) read a book which gave him great pleasure, and of which he often spoke with admiration, “The Naturalist in Nicaragua,' by the late Thomas Belt. Mr. Belt, whose untimely death may well be deplored by naturalists, was by profession an engineer, so that all his admirable observations in natural history in Nicaragua and elsewhere, were the fruit of his leisure. The book is direct and vivid in style, and is full of description and suggestive discussions. With reference to it, my father wrote to Sir J. D. Hooker :- Belt I have read, and I am delighted that you like it so much ; it appears to me the best of all natural history journals which have ever been published.'”
Praise so high, from a critic so competent, renders any apology for the publication of a second edition of the work referred to by Mr. Darwin, needless.
Moreover, apart from the intrinsic merits of the book, the great interest which is now generally displayed on all subjects connected with Central America and the circumstance that this book has now for some time been out of print-render it desirable that a new
edition should be issued from the press. In so doing it seems fitting to say something of the life and work of the author, whose death occurred only four years after the first publication of this book. The following account is reprinted from the Quarterly Journal of Science of January 1879:
“THOMAS BELT, F.G.S.
“In the obituary of the year, and amongst the list of scientific men who have loved science for itself, and sought truth for truth's sake, few will leave a brighter or happier memory with their friends than Thomas Belt.
“Born in Newcastle in 1832, he was an early member of the Tyneside Naturalists' Club, and there began that love of nature and nature's ways that ever remained fresh with him throughout his life.
“In 1852 his adventurous nature took him to the Australian gold diggings, and there (the leading spirit of a family of four brothers located in the colony) from 1853 to 1860 he successively visited, as a miner, the districts of Friars and Forest Creeks, Maryborough, Mount Molingul, Kingower, Korong, Mount Egerton.
"In this rough school of mines' he acquired that practical knowledge which not only served him so well in after-life in his profession, but gave him that insight into the building-up of the earth's crust which enabled him, not seldom, to put forth novel theories in geology and natural phenomena. Unorthodox as they were when first promulgated, yet, silently and solidly, they commended themselves to those who studied the facts and the inferences he drew from them. Amid real hard work in Australia, he found time to speculate on the flight of birds, and to show that