(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October. We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past. This post is from January 18, 2015.)
Blogging can be rough amusement. I will attempt to keep the Definition of a Gentleman written by Cardinal Newman in 1852 in mind as much as I can and still keep the readers of TAC informed and amused. It is almost as if Newman could perceive blogging over a century and a third before it began, as his Definition of a Gentleman is, in part, almost a code of behavior for bloggers. Here are some rules for blogging I have distilled from it:
Bloggers would do well to keep the following in mind:
1. His great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd.
2. He never defends himself by a mere retort.
3. He has no ears for slander or gossip.
4. He is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best.
5. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.
6. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.
7. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults.
8. He is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.
9. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles.
10. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it.
11. He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed to be unjust.
12. He is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is decisive.
13. He throws himself into the minds of his opponents, he accounts for their mistakes.
14. He knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.
15. He will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it.
16. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent.