IN 1808 the Emperor Alexander went to Erfurt for a fresh interview with the Emperor Napoleon, and in the upper circles of Petersburg there was much talk of the grandeur of this important meeting.
In 1809 the intimacy between 'the world's two arbiters, as Napoleon and Alexander were called, was such that when Napoleon declared war on Austria a Russian corps crossed the frontier to co-operate with our old enemy Bonaparte against our old ally the Emperor of Austria, and in court circles the possibility of marriage between Napoleon and one of Alexander's sisters was spoken of. But besides considerations of foreign policy the attention of Russian society was at that time keenly directed on the internal changes that were being undertaken in all the departments of government.
Life meanwhile -- real life, with its essential interests of health and sickness, toil and rest, and its intellectual interests in thought, science, poetry, music, love, friendship, hatred, and passions -- went on as usual, independently of and apart from political friendship or enmity with Napoleon Bonaparte and from all the schemes of reconstruction.
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 labourers -- this being one of the first examples of the kind in Russia. On other estates the serfs' compulsory labour was commuted for a quit-rent. A trained midwife was