Dealing with the young in Dublin

Among the ‘objects to be kept in view’ in devising a plan for the University, Newman noted the need to unite ‘indulgent or at least gentle discipline with moral and religious results’ in a way which would ‘combine authority with influence’. This meant that the plan should ‘so consult for the natural course of the ideas, purposes, needs, pursuits and acts of the youthful mind, i.e. its habits and ways, as to lead it to concur and co-operate with the principles and precepts of education which wisdom and experience […] lay down’. (‘Memorandum relating to the Catholic University’, 19 February 1853)

Nevertheless, Newman did not flinch from acting swiftly and firmly when he needed to. When he had to invoke the disciplinary code in 1857 and arrange for a sanction to be imposed on two students, he explained to one of them:

‘I have no wish to be severe with you or any one. It is much pleasanter to be indulgent. It gives a person in authority no trouble, and makes him popular. But you must recollect I have an account to give to my own conscience. I have ever regarded the care of young men, in whatever degree it comes upon one, as a heavy charge. At the most anxious season of life, when their course for time and eternity may perhaps be fixed, they come under the superintendence of the Authorities of a University. In time to come, they themselves, on whose conduct I had had to pronounce, and their companions too who had been witnesses of it might unite in thanking my memory for what at the time seemed severity, and [not] in dishonouring it for an unwise unfaithful indulgence.’ (Newman to Molloy, 26 December 1857)

To the other he wrote, ‘I have a great responsibility in having a number of men under my charge. I shall have to answer for that charge. I must not act from mere desire to please them, but in order to please Him who at present has placed them under me.’ (Newman to Mulholland, 26 December 1857)

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