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PREFACE.

hundred species of coleoptera and lepidoptera attest his energy and labour; and his charming book, "The Naturalist in Nicaragua,' whilst illustrating his great powers of observation, has endeared him to every lover of nature, and proved the painstaking truth with which he collected his facts.

“The succeeding years of his life were spent in almost continued travel : to North and South Russia, Siberia, the Kirghese Steppes, and many times to the United States. In these journeys he, from time to time, made those observations upon glacial action, upon which he built up his theories of the ice age. These became the ruling passion of his later years. Much of this work will be found in the Quarterly Journal of Science and in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. How much of it will stand the test of time the future only can tell; but all this special work of his is, at least, a careful and elaborate argument, advocating the theory that the extraordinary changes of climate in past ages, over large areas of the earth's surface which are now temperate regions, during the period called by geologists the glacial epoch, may have been brought about by other causes of less intensity than the submergences and emergences of the land, even than by the displacement of whole continents, which theories have been advanced by some to account for the phenomena in question.

“Mr. Belt advocates the agency of ice, and ice-dams, and great lakes—to use his own words—in place of great upheavals and depressions of the earth's surface within a comparatively short period ;' and he questions the hypothesis by which 'we are taught that an immense area in Europe and America has been a sea bottom, and every part of it a sea beach as the land rose again, without any evidence of marine life having been left behind ;' and he claims that his theory of glacial action explains all the phenomena by one great advance southwards of the ice of a single glacial period.'— Quarterly Journal of Science, 'Loess of the Rhine and the Danube,' January 1877.

“ The immediate cause of his death was brain fever, following a long attack of mountain fever.”

In the “ Natural History Transactions of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle-on-Tyne," vol. vii., 1879, the following short memoir, by Mr. Joseph Wright, giving some further details of Mr. Belt's career, appears—

“Died at Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., September 22nd, 1878, Mr. Thomas Belt, F.G.S., aged forty-five.' Such was the brief announcement by telegram which appeared in the newspapers, and told to his astonished friends in this district that he had passed away from their midst.

“His attainments, and the high position he had won for himself in the scientific world, render it only fitting that some record of his life and labours should appear in the • Transactions of the Tyneside Naturalists' Field Club,' of which he was a member for many years.

“Mr. Belt was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1832, and received his education at the school of the late Mr. John Storey, one of the first secretaries of our Club.

“He early evinced a taste for natural history pursuits, the departments of botany and entomology being his favourite studies. In June 1850, he became a member of the Club, and in the second volume of the “Transactions' his name several times appears as the authority for the habitats of some of the rarer plants of the district. On more than one occasion, his old master, Mr. Storey, acknowledges his obligations to him for help on these points.

“In October 1851, he discovered at Ryton a plant new to the district, the Frog-Bit, Hydrocharus Morsus-rance. We

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also find him communicating lists of his captures amongst the lepidoptera to the Club.

“About this time the discovery of gold had been made in Australia, and, like a great many more, Mr. Belt left Tyneside for the new El Dorado.

“This step, we may say, was the turning-point in his life, and had a great influence on his future career. During his residence in Australia, although at a time when the whole colony was moved by the gold-fever, the same quiet habits of observation which marked him on Tyneside are seen. The new aspects of nature with which he was brought into contact in Australia aroused his spirit of investigation, and in 1857 he was reading before the Philosophical Institute of Victoria a paper on 'The Origin of Whirlwinds. This paper is printed in the Philosophical Magazine for 1859, to which periodical it was communicated by the Astronomer-Royal.

“The auriferous quartz veins of Australia he made his peculiar study, the results of which he embodied in a work on ‘Mineral Veins: an Inquiry into their Origin.' This book he published in 1861, and it at once lifted him into the position of an authority on the subject.

“On his return to England, his services were greatly in request as a mining engineer, to which profession he now devoted himself, with an establishment in London. In the prosecution of his labours he travelled over both Asia and America ; and in his long wanderings his keen powers of observation were ever on the alert to enlarge the domain of human knowledge. : "In 1863 Mr. Belt went to Nova Scotia, where he had the superintendence of the Nova-Scotian Gold Company's Mines. Here the great glacial phenomena of North America were unfolded to his view, and to the study of them he devoted himself with enthusiasm. In his investigations into glacial phenomena, careful observations were made at the great lakes of the American continent, the gorge of the Niagara, and the valley of the St. Lawrence, followed afterwards by an examination of the steppes of Siberia and Southern Russia, and among the drifts and gravels of our own country. These results were from time to time communicated to the various learned societies and scientific periodicals. It was his intention to embody his accumulated facts and observations in this department of geological inquiry in a work on Glacial Phenomena ; but this purpose of his life his early death has prevented.

“Whilst in Nova Scotia, where he sojourned for two or three years, he took an active part in the Proceedings of the Nova-Scotian Institute of Natural Science; and the first geological paper printed in their Transactions is from his pen ; it is also in these Transactions that his paper on the Glacial Period in North America appeared.

“After his return from Nova Scotia, he was engaged for some time in examining the quartz rocks of North Wales, a project having been at that time started to seek for gold in these rocks. Whilst so engaged he examined carefully the geology and palæontology of the district of Dolgelly, where he resided, and the results of which he published in two papers in the Geological Magazine, vols. iv., V., 1867-8.

“In 1868 Mr. Belt went to Nicaragua to superintend the mining operations of the Chontales Gold-Mining Company. Here he remained until 1872, and to his residence in that district we owe the work by which his name will be best known. This work, The Naturalist in Nicaragua,' he published in 1874, and we have in it one of the most interesting volumes of travel and natural history in the English language. His observations on the various departments of zoology, botany, and geology, which came under his notice in that district, show the eye and the pen of a competent investigator, and render the book truly a classic one amongst our natural history literature. In 1873, and again in 1875 and 1876, he was in Russia, and travelled

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over a large portion of that great empire. The steppes of Siberia, and also those of Southern Russia, he made his peculiar study; and the results of his observations on these vast plains he embodied in two papers, which he read before the Geological Society of London in 1874 and 1877, and which are published in their Journal.

“In the early part of the summer of 1878 he was down in his native north, revisiting his old acquaintances and the scenes of his youth ; for always, in all his wanderings, he turned lovingly to Tyneside. He at this time was in his usual health and genial spirits; and little did his friends think that it was to be his last visit to the place of his birth, and that they should see his face no more.

“He shortly afterwards left England for Colorado, to fulfil a professional engagement. Here he was struck down with fever, which terminated fatally on the 21st of September. To the last he was an earnest student, and the latest record we have of him shows him still accumulating facts in furtherance of the work on glacial phenomena to which he had devoted himself. The letter of the Denver correspondent of the Times, published in that paper September 25th, 1878, announces the discovery by Mr. Belt of a human skull that might prove to be the oldest in existence, the deposits in which it was found being in his belief of the glacial age.

“It may be said of him that his sun went down while it was yet day,' and that the work to which he had dedicated so much of his life remains unaccomplished. Yet the name of Thomas Belt will not be forgotten. Though he has passed away from us in the flower of his age, the work that he has done has gained for him a position in the scientific world to which few of greater years attain.

“He was a careful and accurate observer, and able with his pen to lay before the world the results of his observations clearly and temperately. Whatever he undertook he did it well, and in the departments of natural science to which

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