Bain was a fluent linguist who could use over twenty languages. Besides translating a number of books he also used his skills to write learned books on foreign people and folklore. Bain was a frequent contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica. His contributions were biographies and varied from Andrew Aagensen to Aleksander Wielopolski. He taught himself Hungarian in order that he could read Mór Jókai in the original after first reading him in German. He translated from Finnish, Danish and Russian and also tackled Turkish authors via Hungarian. He was the most prolific translator into English from Hungarian in the nineteenth century. He married late and died young after publishing a wide range of literature from or about Europe.