22 Gerrard St
June 2 / 53
From the 3 plates done by the Camera I can only conclude that it is not by your labors the perfectibility of the process is to be decided for from the proof of the plate in which is to be seen an arms, much might have been done with the subject by stopping out at various stages, it is over bitten till the delineation is all gone. now [sic] an engraver would have watched his biting, have stoped [sic] out – again applied the acid again stopped out untill [sic] his effects were equally bit, or unequally to his wish. the [sic] knowledge of this can only be acquired by patient practice, and by studying the same subject over and over again. You will remember in your process as in engraving the lateral biting destroys all semblance of effect to the original. The longer an etched plate is bit the less it becomes like the etching – for the lines all widen but of course do not lengthen. you [sic] must devise some means of getting a knowledge of the effect you intend to obtain and so regulate your biting to render that effect
Now in the house for instance over a doorway or window and under what I take to be a cornice there are recumbent lions or something of the kind an artist would in his etching treat [it?] in a manner by lines and reflected lights that would in spite of their being in shade render them at once to the eye using many little devices to make them obvious but not obtrusive. That nature is the source of these devices and not art I have convinced myself by the aid of your own Photography & of which I think I have before quoted instance. If not, I allude to a portion of Greenwich Hospital where a gate interposes between the eye of the spectator and the white stone of the building and crosses also the black shadow of the windows. I know the gate was painted white because I went to look, yet in the Photograph, the iron work is black against the white wall. White against the black of the window, but if you were to bite in the same view, the lateral biting would absorb the white. look [sic] for an illustration of this more at hand in the leaf No 3.
What would an engraver do here, when once the figure was delineated on the plate, he would go over the whole of those veins stopping out to the full, if the same had been done with the plate with arms I have no doubt an intelligible result would have been the consequence, if so in this how much more in those of the building
I return all the plates but the two last botanical specimens.
All these steel plates will clean [illegible] at less than half the price of new and do to use again. You can run a smooth file over them first, to destroy the subject
Mr Murray has asked me for a few I have now but a few of a very few plates. May I present him from any that you may deem worthy of [illegible]ulation at an after time for what I have [illegible] James Ramsay and my Friend Clark will quite exhaust
I would have taken a few more before returning them but I am pressingly busy and a printer out of work is hard to come at
Mr Ridgway has a copy of the Hortus Woburnensis which is fine selected specimens of the Grasses fixed down on paper Price £20, it seems high but I think you had better see it if you contemplate anything in that direction. I have not seen it.
Most Respectfully yrs
32 Steel plates
H. F. Talbot Esq