It was undoubtedly an important fact to the young poet to be brought thus early in contact with Sir William Jones and his twenty-eight languages. It is the experience of all that the gift of learning a variety of tongues is something which peculiarly belongs to youth. In Southern Europe, in Russia, in the East, it is a common thing to encounter mere children who with next to no schooling will prattle readily in three or four languages with equal inaccuracy but with equal ease; while a much older person may acquire them by laborious study and yet never feel at home. One can hardly doubt Longfellow's natural readiness in that direction; he was always being complimented, at any Rate—though this may not count for much— upon his aptness in pronouncing foreign tongues, and the ease with which his own compositions lent themselves to translation may very possibly have some obscure connection with his own gifts in this respect. His college training can have
 just finished reading them. Eight languages he was critically versed in; eight more he read with a dictionary; and there were twelve more not wholly unknown to him. I have somewhere seen or heard the observation that as many languages as a person acquires, so many times is he a man.Life, i. 57, 58.
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