|St. Mary's, Turweston (waymarking.com)|
The case of "The Rev. Dog-Torturer" became a cause celebre across England. Harley freely admitted doing it; he was at his wit's end, the dog had been chased off so many times. A veterinarian stated that the pain lasted no longer than hour. The RSPCA official called it a "gross act of cruelty" and beyond a landowner's rights. Denounced in many papers and among animal-lovers, Harley wrote to The Times, expressing some sorrow but claiming he was the victim of great exaggeration, "I was particularly careful not to allow it to touch any tender parts." At the Petty Sessions, the rector was cleared and, moreover, "he leaves this court without a stain upon his reputation as a Christian minister, a gentleman and a humane man.”
Critics feared that if a clergyman could get away with this, what would others do? The Spectator reminded readers: "There is nothing more striking in our Lord's whole teaching than the reality with which he binds together the whole living universe in the bond of His Father's care and love."
Looking for more stories of clerical controversy? Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1 is now available for E-readers via either amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.
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