In Iolanthe, by Gilbert and Sullivan, Phyllis sings (after discovering the "betrayal"):
So the richest and rankiest of you all
My sorrowful heart shall choose.
I'll be a countess, shall I not?
and the peers say:
Rank, it seems, is vital,
"Countess" is the title,
Yes, countess, countess the title, the title,
Yet the only candidates are two earls which seems a bit odd, given that half the House courts her. I see a few options:
- No dukes or marquesses are available.
- She just picked a title (and nobody wished to contest that).
- Marchioness wouldn't fit in the song and duchess would be unrealistic.
But perhaps I'm missing some historical context or a subtle joke?