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1878 __ Intercepted Letter
Kate Field (1838-1896)
Comment : [After the Bell's demonstration for the Queen Victoria,] Kate Field was planning a "Matinée Téléphonique" for the press, in order to "get one general chorus of gratuitous advertising" before the opening of Parliament captured the spotlight. The Queen's well-reported interest in the telephone helped make the affair a decided success. A few weeks later Miss Field put together her own articles and some earlier stories copied from Bell's scrapbook in a little six-penny pamphlet entitled "The History of Bell's Telephone". An "Intercepted Letter" from a supposititious American lady tourist to a friend provided a thin commentary and connective. It included a speculation that light as well as sound would eventually be transmitted, and "while two persons, hundereds of miles apart, are talking together, they will actually see each other!". This was just the sort of notion Kate Field might have got from Bell himself. (Robert V. Bruce)
Original excerpt : « ." ' All right ; what do you want? ' "'Who are you?" I asked. " ' I 'm every inch a man, and by your voice I know that my questioner is a lady." " ' How far away are you ? ' " ' Half a mile.' " ' Will you whistle ? ' " ' Certainly.' "Sure enough, I heard with the utmost distinctness, 'Whistle, and I '11 come to thee, my lad.' " ' Capital,' I said. ' Now a song, if you please.' " Didn't I laugh when my unknown acquaintance sang, I Thou art so near and yet so far ' ? " ' Why did you laugh? ' asked the Invisible, at the conclusion of his song. " ' Did you hear me ? My mouth was some distance from the Telephone." " ' I heard you perfectly. Now hear me breathe.' " When that breath came to my ear I was startled. Then we whispered to each other, and finally the Invisible exclaimed, ' Just one more experiment,' and he kissed me ! I heard him. I can't say honestly that this final experiment was as satisfactory in its results as the ordinary way of performing the operation. It is not likely to supersede old-fashioned osculation, but, faute de mieux, it will serve. I am quite sure the young King of Spain resorted to it recently when, forced to leave Aranjuez and return to Madrid, he communicated telephonically with his fiancee. " Three weeks later, when I next interviewed the Telephone, the Invisible, who had never seen me, and had only heard my voice during the short conversation I have repeated, began to laugh, and said, ' I had the honor of kissing my fair questioner three weeks ago.' This proves the wonderful delicacy of the instrument, and how impossible it will be to practise deception through it. Since then I have heard four-part singing, ' sounding like distant music on the water,' to borrow the happy expression of the Duke of Connaught, who was delighted with the effect. It 's a singular fact that part singing, which is by no means true, comes out beautifully at the distant end of the Telephone. Electricity has so exquisite an ear that it seems to harmonize all differences. It will be a good idea for impresarios to pass all their doubtful singers through the Telephone. They will never be out of tune, no matter how flat or sharp they start. Then, I 've heard a solo and pianoforte accompaniment, with every note and word as audible as possible ; I 've heard bugle-playing fifty miles distant that was charming, and I've heard an organ 130 miles away. Now I'm prepared for the deluge, or whatever Nature pleases. It 's impossible to be surprised any more. Before long we shall fold our arms, and let electricity do everything for us. We '11 go to bed and get up by electricity ; we '11 eat by electricity, and be saved the bore of knives and forks. We '11 write by electricity, and see by the same means. Yes, you need n't open your eyes. I 've just read of the electroscope, the province of which is to transmit waves of light by electricity. Combine it with the Telephone, and while two persons, hundreds of miles apart, are talking together, they will actually see each other. Won't this be fun? If your lover happens to be an amateur photographer, he '11 take your picture, my dear, across the ocean. Only let electricity circumvent the Atlantic, and I 'm its slave for life. » (In Lilian Whiting, pp. 348-350)
Source : Bruce, Robert V. (1990), “Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the conquest of solitude”, Cornell University Press, p. 242.
Source : Field, Kate (1878), “Bell’s Telephone — The Telephone of the Future : An Intercepted Letter”, Edited by Kate Field.
Source : Field, Kate (1878),“Kate Field: Selected Letters”, Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.
Source : Whiting, Lilian (1900), "Kate Field, a record", Boston : Little, Brown and Co.
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/katefieldrecord00whit/katefieldrecord00whit_djvu.txt (last visited )

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