Ethel. And do you think you will never be able to paint as well as M. Delaroche?
Clive. No – never.
Ethel. And – and – you will never give up painting?
Clive. No – never. That would be like leaving your friend who was poor; or deserting your mistress because you were disappointed about her money. They do those things in the great world, Ethel.
Ethel (with a sigh). Yes.
– W. M. Thackeray, THE NEWCOMES
Chapter 47, in the heart of THE NEWCOMES, which “Contains two or three acts of a little comedy,” is almost entirely done like a play, in dialogue. It was my favorite portion of the entire book. The lovers have escaped from the watchful chaperones and from the author’s digressive narrative, for a very short time. And it was in this chapter, where Ethel asks Clive if he can’t leave art to do something more respectable, something at which he might actually excel, that Clive stands up for himself. He’s not a very good painter, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to quit painting, either. I respected him much more after that.