C. W. Russell
§ VII. Linguists of the Slavonic race. (P. 125)
The extraordinary capacity of the Slavonic races for the acquisition of foreign languages, has long been a subject of observation and of wonder. In every educated foreign circle Russians and Poles may be met, whom it is impossible to distinguish, by their language, or even by their accent, from the natives of the country : and this accomplishment is frequently found to embrace the entire range of the polite languages of Europe. In the higher native Russian society, it is rare to meet one who does not speak several languages, besides his own. Every candidate for public office in Russia, especially in connexion with foreign affairs, must be master of at least four languages, French, German, English, and Italian ; and in the Eastern governments of the empire, are constantly to be found employés, who, to the ordinary stock of European languages, add an equal number of the dialects of the Asiatic races subject to the Czar.
In most cases, however, this facility in the use of foreign languages enjoyed by the natives of Russia and Poland, is chiefly conversational, and acquired rather by practice than by study ; and, among the numbers who, during the last three centuries, must be presumed to have possessed this gift in an eminent degree, very few appear to have acquired a permanent reputation as scholars in the higher sense of the name.