The Dirt

A Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

I’m sorry to write a post so niche, but if you too are hooked on Julian Fellowes’s Downton Abbey, I’ll wager you noticed this little peccadillo escape the Dowager Countess’s mouth while lending the nuptially-challenged Edith some matronly advice:

Edith: There’s nothing to do at the house — except when we entertain.

Dowager Countess: Well there must be something you can put your mind to?

E: Like what? Gardening?

DC: Well no, you can’t be as desperate as that.

Well, Violet, after your little tussle at last season’s flower show, we’d no idea you looked down on the horticultural arts. No idea.





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  1. soilgoil 01/25/2013

    Yes, I heard that comment, and my feelings were hurt by the remark. And here I thought the Brits (especially upper-class Edwardian Brits!) were champions of the art of gardening. So phooey on the person who wrote that script -- but don't stop writing!

  2. coleuslady 01/26/2013


    You are quite right! The British were and are avid gardeners. But I heard Cousin Violet's remark as both self-deprecating and part of her acerbic wit. We know from the flower show tussle that she thinks her skills superior, yet she is never obvious enough to state so publicly. She clearly believes her way of thinking and living, her family, her class all superior; but self-deprecation is part of her breeding and manners. It is also transparent enough to be called sarcasm. Violet is a complex character, perhaps because Maggie Smith is a wonderful enough actress to add multiple layers to her portrayal. I suspect that Fellowes merely gestures towards Violet, and Smith runs away with her!

    And can we hold a grudge, when she was so gracious about giving up the flower show prize? A true gardener's generous heart beats within.

  3. geron1mo 01/26/2013

    I noticed that barb, but I think the Countess was referring to Edith's case, not to gardening in general. It seemed to me she was attempting to cause Edith to set her goals on something more public and more potent at her stage in life--that gardening should not be her main pursuit while she has much more to offer the world.
    It is likely that bit of advice that occasions Edith to go into journalism--next episode.

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