28 SEPTEMBER 1867, Page 22

Cattle and Cattle - Breeders. By William McCombie. (Blackwood). —There is an

absence of system and method in this book, but the hints it gives are based on practical experience, and it is thoroughly readable and amusing. Mr. McCombie has the advantage of hereditary acquaint- ance with cattle-dealing, and he seems to have kept up the reputation of his father and grandfather. He began early by buying beasts at a fair to which his father had let him go alone, and he was much chagrined when, on his bringing them home, his father remarked, "They have not the countenance of beasts." Mr. McCombie remembers the look of some of them to this day, and perhaps this recollection enables him to pronounce more positively on the points required in a good feeding or breeding animal. "It should have," he says, "a fine expression of countenance; I could point it out, but it is difficult to describe upon paper. It should be mild, serene, and expressive." No doubt mildness and serenity are the general characteristics of a cow's face, but the expressiveness is not always so easy to detect. The author of the poem, "Of What is the Old Cow Thinking?" might have thanked Mr. McCombie for some suggestions. We have to thank him for some good stories, and for a pleasant chatty book on a subject which in itself is not the most entertaining. The accounts he gives of some of the- old breeders and dealers furnish him with a good many anecdotes, but there is no very strict limit to the range of his reminiscences. He tells. us of a competition between two dealers for the purchase of a lot of cattle, and of the way in which ont secured the first bid by boiling the other's boots, and thus making him put off his journey. But he also.. gives us an account of a notorious smuggler and poacher, who for a bet of 50/. ran a considerable distance naked, and who ran the gauntlet of "a posse of wives" drawn up at a bridge, and armed with sticks and stones, to intercept him. The unearthly appearance of the poacher,. whose body was all covered with hair like an ox, quite disconcerted the women, and he passed unharmed. Whether it be owing to this com- parison or to any other association that the poacher's adventure finds a. place in a book about cattle, we will leave to Mr. McCombie to explain, but his recollections are none the less welcome that they cannot all be referred to the same subject.