Downton Abbey – Dowager Countess' say the darndest things


Everyone in America seems a bit down today. Some realize that after the Super Bowl next Sunday, the American football season is over until Fall. While some have hope with the knowledge that pitchers and catchers report in a little over two weeks, others realize baseball season is, officially, still two months away.

Personally, I’m going with the thought that most Americans are a bit sad today with the realization that tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey, on PBS’ Masterpiece series, is the final episode of season one. If you fall into the last category, go into the evening armed with the knowledge that series two begins filming next month. As the series ends tonight, it’s time to take a look back at the greatness of writer, Julian Fellowes, and the wit and wisdom of  the Dowager Countess. With a full grasp of the situation, the entertainment side of  New York Magazine, Vulture, has compiled some of the best zingers of Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey. This should help us celebrate the series and not dwell on the fact that there will be no more until Fall 2011.

• Cora: “Are we to be friends then?”
Lady Grantham: “We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.”

• “I couldn’t have electricity in the house, I wouldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapors floating about.”

• Cora: “I hope I don’t hear sounds of a disagreement.”
Lady Grantham: “Is that what they call discussion in New York?”

• “No one wants to kiss a girl in black.”

• “What is a weekend?”

• “Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house.”

• Cora: “I might send her over to visit my aunt. She could get to know New York.”
Lady Grantham: “Oh, I don’t think things are quite that desperate.”

• “One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”

• Cora: “I hate to go behind Robert’s back.”
Lady Grantham: “That is a scruple no successful wife can afford.”

• Lady Grantham: “Why would you want to go to a real school? You’re not a doctor’s daughter.”
Sybil: “Nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsy.”
Lady Grantham: “What else do you need? Are you thinking of a career in banking?”
Cora: “Things are different in America.”
Lady Grantham: “I know. They live in wigwams.”

• Doctor: “Mrs. Crawley tells me she has recommended nitrate of silver and tincture of steel.”
Lady Grantham: “Why, is she making a suit of armor?”

• Lord Grantham: “We better go in soon or it isn’t fair to Mrs. Padmore.”
Lady Grantham: “Oh, is her cooking so precisely timed? You couldn’t tell.”

• Lady Grantham: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”
Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
Lady Grantham: “I must’ve said it wrong.”

Finally, Vulture leaves you with the following bonus visual zinger…

  • Len

    The words are great. The delivery of them is even better. I don’t know if anyone else other than Maggie Smith could deliver them as well as she did.

    I do think the Dowager would complain, though, about them being described as ‘zingers’.

    Looking forward to seeing Season 2.

  • rmr1581

    Final episode of season 2: the Dowager Countess said something in French near the beginning of the episode. Does anyone know what she said?

  • rmr1581

    Final episode of season 2: the Dowager Countess said something in French near the beginning of the episode. Does anyone know what she said?

  • gman

    [email protected]:disqus  The Dowager Countess says “Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?” which translated means “Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear?”. I presume this in reference to her knowing the father of Rosumunds suitor back in the ’60s (1860’s) and the fun times they must have had.

  • gman

    [email protected]:disqus  The Dowager Countess says “Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?” which translated means “Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear?”. I presume this in reference to her knowing the father of Rosumunds suitor back in the ’60s (1860’s) and the fun times they must have had.

  • You do have to find a sense of humor in the quip by the Dowager Duchess about Cora moving on with her volunteer activities with the Refugees organization rather than pursue maintaining the Abbey as a convalescence home when saying that they needed to find Cora another scaffold. And in an earlier situation find her a new noose. I do wish that the writers would not Americanize somuch of the sayings that would probably be found if it were solely considered a non-US audience production.

  • You do have to find a sense of humor in the quip by the Dowager Duchess about Cora moving on with her volunteer activities with the Refugees organization rather than pursue maintaining the Abbey as a convalescence home when saying that they needed to find Cora another scaffold. And in an earlier situation find her a new noose. I do wish that the writers would not Americanize somuch of the sayings that would probably be found if it were solely considered a non-US audience production.

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