viscount Mandeville, like many British aristocrats, had met her in the U.S. while “hunting” for an American wife.
Duchess is the highest rank in the English peerage (in descending order the ranks go duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron).
It is the prerogative of a viscount or a baron to make a person feel small, and of a baronet to extinguish him.
late 14c., "deputy of a count or earl," from Anglo-French and Old French visconte, from Medieval Latin vicecomes (genitive vicecomitis), from Late Latin vice- "deputy" (see vice-) + Latin comes "member of an imperial court, nobleman" (see count (n.)). As a rank in British peerage, first recorded 1440, when John, Baron Beaumont, was made one by Henry VI.