Page:A Tour Through the Batavian Republic.djvu/31

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BATAVIAN REPUBLIC

intimacy with the novels of Smollet and Fielding, shewed the great progress he had made towards conquering the difficulties of our language. His acquaintance with French literature had not debauched his taste; his veneration for Shakspeare was unweakened by the flimsy cavils of Voltaire, and he readily assigned the palm of heroic excellence to the illustrious Milton. My knowledge of German letters is confined to the authors whom I have read through the medium of translation, and with these, and others whose names have not reached me, he is familiar; but this ought not to excite much surprise, as the Dutch language has a great affinity to the German, and the literary poverty of his own country probably first led him to cultivate the learning of a people whose manners and genius approximate to those of his own nation. I feel some diffidence in praising his acquirements in French and Italian literature, because the narrow compass of my own knowledge leads me to distrust my judgment; but he discoursed without caution or vanity on all the authors in either language