Were you as taken by surprise as I was Sunday night when the Dowager Countess of Grantham gave her impassioned little speech against big government?

The Dowager Countess and Dr. Clarkson, as you already must know, are aligned against the rest of the family (including the perennially enlightened Isobel Crawley) in fighting the amalgamation of the local hospital with a larger, centralized hospital.

Accused of simply wanting to maintain control for personal reasons, the dowager launches into a defense of her position that makes it sound like she has been reading Reason magaine:  

“For years, I’ve watched governments take control of our lives. Their argument is always the same: ‘Fewer costs, greater efficiency.’ But the result is the same, too. Less control by the people, more control by the State — until the individual’s anguishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist.”

I'm not in favor of sermonettes (even ones with which I wholeheartedly agree) in what should be entertainment, and the speech itself sounded pat. Would the dowager (played of course by the inimitable Maggie Smith) really frame the argument quite like that? But nevertheless: hear, hear!

Interesting, too. Love to know what the series creator Julian Fellows thinks about big government (which, after all, has gobbled up families like the Crawleys for the necessary taxes). Maybe Sir Julian is a secret Rand Paul fan? Or maybe he believes that the centralized hospital would, in fact, provide better medical care and thus the dowager was wrong to oppose it.

Hot Air comments:

“Well said, mother,” Lord Grantham might begrudgingly sigh.  She frames this duty as one that must be fulfilled by Britain’s waning “great families,” but swap out that anachronistic phrase for “free people” or “informed citizens,” and one can practically picture Violet Crawley attending a tea party rally.  

I don't know about that, but I know I certainly agree with every word of the dowager's surprising speech.