The Introduction offered a brisk overview of many dominant British attitudes towards the French language from 1756 to 1830. The present chapter probes some of these in more detail by focusing on three influential writers-namely, Tobias Smollett, William Cowper, and John Keats-who all acquired some facility in French and who appreciated the significance of (certain kinds of) French literature. Since their combined lives span most of the chronological period covered by this book, the following discussion will start to delineate in more detail some of the main perspectives and stances that came to characterise literary responses to the French language in Britain during the period in question. This is a topic that has often been curiously marginalised in recent studies of the long eighteenth century. In his impressive book Tobias Smollett, Novelist (1998), Jerry C. Beasley attempts to clarify the relationship between Smollett’s fiction and the British eighteenth-century novel, but he explicitly declines the opportunity to explore equally important interconnections with French literature. Having identified some of the anxieties that troubled many British novelists of the era, he remarks (merely in a footnote) that

[o]ne might make a similar claim for eighteenth-century French fiction in its own culture, which endured similar anxieties for similar reasons. The parallels in cultural experience surely help to explain why so many French novels-by Madame de La Fayette, Pierre Marivaux, the Abbé Prévost, Voltaire, and others-were so well received in England and so influential in shaping the new English novel. But all of this is another subject, beyond my scope here.1