BRITISH etching began to interest me forty-six years ago, at the Slade School of Art. A new-comer not yet seventeen, I noticed new things and listened to a new jargon as though a wishing-cap had plopped me down suddenly in a foreign land. Some fellows who talked about "grounds" and "stopping out," and whose fingers were blotched with a yellow stain, were favoured too much, getting private talks with Legros easier than anyone else. They were etchers, these immortals, and William Strang was among them, like J. B. Clark. His first published plate, brought out by The Etcher in 1881, was signed W. Strang, F.S.P.E. It represented a woodman; but that string of letters after his name and its pride of craft enabled me to take only a mild pleasure in forestry. Fellow of the Society of Painter- Etchers! And Strang was only three years my senior.
Another Sladeite romped into publicity before Strang. It wasn't J. B. Clark, but G. P. Jacomb-Hood. He had a plate in The Portfolio as early as 1880, showing how "A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine." One day I was told by a writer on art, my uncle, G. T. Robinson, that Legros did not originate the fervour for etching, as many youngsters believed; that the Etching Club had fostered keenness through many years, producing at last a genuine movement. For this reason I should go through the Club's publications, and connect them with earlier etchings. Thus a beginning was made, and to begin any good hobby study is a very enjoyable test of character, for its end cannot be reached in the brief seasons of a perishable life. So there's no need to treat it very methodically. Ramble over it, picking and choosing what you like best.
But one thing certainly should end--the neglect of British etchers, even by men who publish books on etching. To drop connecting links