22 JUNE 1878, Page 24

Food from the Far West : or, American Agriculture, with

Special Reference to the Beef-Production and Importation of Dead Meat from America to Great Britain. By James Macdonald. (W. P. Nimmo.)— Mr. Macdonald was commissioned, he tells us, by the Scotsman news- paper to visit the United States and Canada, to report for the benefit of the British farmer upon the subjects indicated in the cumbrous title to his book, which we have printed at length above. The letters which ho sent' home are here, with certain additions, reprinted. We hardly feel competent, in these columns, at any rate, to discuss the full signi- ficance of the facts, figures, and impressions Mr. Macdonald places before us, but we may speak of their form as being unusually intelligible and untechnical, and give a word of praise to his hearty and sympathetic style. His conclusions seem to be that there is as much variety in the quality of the beef which is generally spoken of as " American " as there is in other commodities which reach us from across the Atlantic, and that only the very prime sorts are ever likely in any way to disturb our markets, unless both the class of cattle and the mode of their treatment are greatly improved. He has, on behalf of his "British "friends, a holy horror of anything but " prime joints," and shares their almost superstitions veneration for that "under-done undercut" which is popularly supposed to be the true food of the gods. "Notwith- standing," he writes, " all that has been said to the contrary, my firm opinion is that the best quality of American beef has no com- parison whatever with the best quality of British beef. It must be placed on a level with second-class British beef, but a higher position it cannot claim." In conclusion, we desire to suggest to the Local Secretaries of those Chambers of Agriculture without one of which, now-a-days, no agricultural district can be considered complete, that Mr. Macdonald's handy and conscientious book might suitably form the text of a discourse in the county hall when, as sometimes will happen, the interest of the last Agricultural Improvements Bill fails, or the discussion on the incidence of local taxation begins to pall upon their long-suffering audiences. In other cases, we despair even of the

gilt bull's head on this book's handsome cover stirring the literary instinct of the "British" farmers,—except, perhaps, the North British.