Constant Reader wrote me a letter that I do not, even now, quite know how to answer. I hope you will not mind, dear Constant Reader, if I quote your letter in full; I know my other readers shan’t mind, as it is very brief. The text of the letter is, “Baronets. What about them?” This correspondent writes in an uneducated scrawl with a superficial scrim of culture; the letters, though ill-formed, are very full indeed of decorative curls. Indeed, I should at once have resigned this communication to the refuse bin, had not the (very expensive) paper been splotched with tears. I infer Low Origins, elevated rather too suddenly by Marriage; possibly Constant Reader is still slightly dizzy as a result. It is never wise, ladies, to rise too quickly. But I sense, from these Clews, that our Constant Reader may indeed be in doubt about Baronets. Baronets are but rarely encountered in Whitechapel; in Mayfair, they are rather more common. I shall do what I can.
A Baronet is a Hereditary Knight, and thus neither Common nor Noble. Baronets (it is important for any Lady to know, so as not to have her plans entirely disrupted) are always getting stabbed. Baronets generally get stabbed in the Library (being Stabbed in the Library is universally fatal for Baronets, the equivalent of the opening of a femoral artery, only more so). When you have a Baronet, and you have a Library (or a Study will do if you aren’t particular), the sooner the Baronet goes there and gets stabbed, the better. Why delay the inevitable event? It only prolongs the poor Baronet’s suffering, and adds to it a tragic element of False Hope.
Some hostesses are deeply troubled by the presence of a Baronet at their fine Society dinners. What, they wonder, is the exact rank of a Baronet? Who, they fret, ought the Baronet to go into Dinner with? What, in short, they cry out to Heaven, is the Protocol? It is rumored that a certain Lady, facing the arrival of a Baronet at one of her dinners, took to her bed with The Vapours and never smiled again, or spoke, save in her sleep, when she would sometimes sit Bolt Upright in bed, though still Quite Asleep, and deliver little lectures on the subject of Hereditary Knights, using many words that, her Physician declared, no true Lady would know. This led to the discovery that she was a Jumped-Up Counter-Jumping Bounder (or Boundress) of a New-Moneyed Commoner, and her family was, of course, Shunned Thereafter. Here is some sound advice on the subject of seating Baronets, from A Member of the Aristocracy; I offer it in hope that you, Constant Reader, shall not meet this same, shameful fate:
My dear, if your household is properly managed, this problem will never arise! Settle your Baronet comfortably in the Library (or, I suppose, a Study will do), withdraw, and Allow Nature To Take Its Course!
Constant Reader, I hope this will help you to conceal your Low Origins, though I fear that, in your case, The Truth Will Out. There are not enough advice columns in the world to save you from Ostracism.
Goodbye, and Good Luck!
Notes: Auntie Agony, though a howling snob, is not without powers of Deduction. Perhaps, if sufficiently Modernized, she could be taken into partnership? Sending her some Suffragette literature will result either in Hilarity or in Progress; I shall do it!