BOOK SIX: 1808 – 10
Prince Andrew had spent two years continuously in the country.
All the plans Pierre had attempted on his estates—and constantly changing from one thing to another had never accomplished—were carried out by Prince Andrew without display and without perceptible difficulty.
He had in the highest degree a practical tenacity which Pierre lacked, and without fuss or strain on his part this set things going.
On one of his estates the three hundred serfs were liberated and became free agricultural laborers—this being one of the first examples of the kind in Russia. On other estates the serfs’ compulsory labor was commuted for a quitrent. A trained midwife was engaged for Boguchárovo at his expense, and a priest was paid to teach reading and writing to the children of the peasants and household serfs.
Prince Andrew spent half his time at Bald Hills with his father and his son, who was still in the care of nurses. The other half he spent in “Boguchárovo Cloister,” as his father called Prince Andrew’s estate. Despite the indifference to the affairs of the world he had expressed to Pierre, he diligently followed all that went on, received many books, and to his surprise noticed that when he or his father had visitors from Petersburg, the very vortex of life, these people lagged behind himself—who never left the country—in knowledge of what was happening in home and foreign affairs.
Besides being occupied with his estates and reading a great variety of books, Prince Andrew was at this time busy with a critical survey of our last two unfortunate campaigns, and with drawing up a proposal for a reform of the army rules and regulations.
In the spring of 1809 he went to visit the Ryazán estates which had been inherited by his son, whose guardian he was.
Warmed by the spring sunshine he sat in the calèche looking at the new grass, the first leaves on the birches, and the first puffs of white spring clouds floating across the clear blue sky. He was not thinking of anything, but looked absent-mindedly and cheerfully from side to side.#ENGLISH