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KATE FIELD’S NEW DEPARTURE.
BY EDWARD INCREASE MATHER.
Miss Kate Field has been so exclusively identified with artistic and literary success that her new departure as a lecturer on existing political evils has excited no little surprise and comment. An exceptional degree of public interest as well as of purely private and personal regard has followed her almost, indeed, from childhood; partly due, it may be, to a certain indefinable magnetism of temperament which always makes the place where she chances to be at the time seem a social centre, and somewhat, too, from a life that has not been without its picturesque setting of scenery and circumstance. “Kate Field was started right,”—remarked Miss Frances E. Willard of her one day. “As a child Walter Savage Landor held her on his knee and taught her, and she grew up in the atmosphere of Art.” The chance observation made only en passant, never the less touched a salient truth in that vital manner in which Miss Willard’s words are accustomed to touch truth. She was, indeed, “started right.” The only child of gifted parents, endowed with a rare combination of intellectual and artistic talent; with a nobility and genuineness of nature that has ever been one of her most marked characteristics; attuned by temperament to all that is fine, and high, and beautiful,—it is little wonder that her life has presented a series of advancing achievements. She has studied, and read, and thought; she has travelled, and “sipped the foam of many lives;” and a polished and many-sided culture has added its charm to a woman singularly charming by nature and possessed of the subtle gift of fascination. When very young she studied music and modern languages abroad in Florence, and in London. To music she especially devoted herself studying under Garcia and under William Shakespeare, the great English tenor, whose favorite pupil she is said to have been. Walter Savage Landor conceived a great fondness for her, gave her lessons in Latin, and left her at his death a valuable portfolio of old drawings. In some verses addressed “To K.F.” he alludes to her as:—
Modest as winged angels are,
And no less brave and no less fair.
[Illustration: MISS KATE FIELD.]
His interest was richly repaid by the young girl who, after his death, wrote reminiscences of Landor in a manner whose sympathetic brilliancy of interpretation added an enduring lustre to his life and achievement. In her early girlhood as, indeed, in her womanhood, her brilliancy and charm won all hearts. It was in Florence that she met George Eliot, and a moon-light evening at the Trollope villa, where Marion Lewes led the girl, dream-enchanted, out on the fragrant and flowery terrace, left its picture in her memory, and exquisitely did she portray it in a paper on George Eliot at the time of her death. By temperament