A Vexed Question Settled. Source: Fun (19 March 1893): 134. Click on image to enlarge it.

Lady Diana: — “What’s the new vicar like?”
Captain Nimrod: — “Can’t say: haven’t seen him in the pigskin — only in the Pulpit.”
Lady Diana: — “How does he preach? A good one to follow?”
Captain Nimrod: — “Couldn’t quite keep level with him. He was going a twitter about the Unpardonable Sin.”
Lady Diana: — “Oh, then he’s all right. He means barbed wire!”

This Fun cartoon takes the same view of England’s ruling classes as did Matthew Arnold, who called them Barbarians in Culture and Anarchy, and the point of view of these two fox-hunters combines ignorance of their own Anglican belief with a narrow-mindedness that sees everything through a favorite leisure activity, here hunting. Lady Diana bears the name of the goddess of the hunt (as well as of the moon and chastity) while her companion has the name of Nimrod, whom the Bible describes as a mighty hunter.

The dim-witted captain admits he didn’t understand the new minister’s sermon on the unpardonable sin — blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29), which is admittedly a concept hard to define. Nonetheless, the main idea is that Jesus forgives virtually all sins (and according to some interpreters the “unpardonable sin” refers only to those contemporauies of Christ who charged that His miracles came from Satan not God). Since fox-hunting on horseback is the “religion” of Lady Diana and Captain Nimrod, they believe the only unpardonable sin is barbed wire, which farmers used to protect land and crops but which gets in the way of their sport. —  George P. Landow

Last modified 11 February 2016