Bogachevsky

This trader was a monk of the Essene Order who, having gradually prepared Bogachevsky, introduced him into his brotherhood. Owing to his exemplary life, Bogachevsky was appointed warden and, a few years later, prior in one of the branches of this brotherhood in Egypt; and later, on the death of one of the assistants to the abbot of the chief monastery, Bogachevsky was appointed in his place.

Of his extraordinary life during this period I learned much, when I was in Broussa, from the tales of a certain friend of mine, a Turkish dervish who had often met Bogachevsky. Before this time I had received another letter from him, again sent through my uncle. In addition to the few words of blessing, there were enclosed a small photograph of him in the dress of a Greek monk and several views of holy places in the environs of Jerusalem.

When he was in Kars, still only a candidate for the priesthood, Bogachevsky had very original views on morality. He then said and taught me that on earth there are two moralities: one objective, established by life in the course of thousands of years, and the other subjective, pertaining to individuals as well as to whole nations, kingdoms, families, groups of people and so forth.

‘Objective morality,’ he said, ‘is established by life and by the commandments given us by the Lord God Himself through His prophets, and it gradually becomes the basis for the formation in man of what is called conscience. And it is by this conscience that objective morality, in its turn, is maintained. Objective morality never changes, it can only broaden in the course of time. As for subjective morality, it is invented by man and is therefore a relative conception, differing for different people and different places and depending upon the particular understanding of good and evil prevailing in the given period.

‘For example, here in Transcaucasia,’ said Bogachevsky, ‘if a woman does not cover her face and if she speaks with a guest, everyone will regard her as immoral, spoiled and badly brought up. But in Russia, on the contrary, if a woman does cover her face and if she does not welcome a guest and entertain him with conversation, everyone will consider her badly brought up, rude, disagreeable and so forth.

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