The argument stands thus--Osborne, in love with Amelia, has asked an old friend to dinner and to Vauxhall--Jos Sedley is in love with Rebecca. Will he marry her? That is the great subject now in hand. We might have treated this subject in the genteel, or in the romantic, or in the facetious manner. Suppose we had laid the scene in Grosvenor Square, with the very same adventures--would not some people have listened? Suppose we had shown how Lord Joseph Sedley fell in love, and the Marquis of Osborne became attached to Lady Amelia, with the full consent of the Duke, her noble father: or instead of the supremely genteel, suppose we had resorted to the entirely low, and described what was going on in Mr. Sedley's kitchen--how black Sambo was in love with the cook (as indeed he was), and how he fought a battle with the coachman in her behalf; how the knife-boy was caught stealing a cold shoulder of mutton, and Miss Sedley's new femme de chambre refused to go to bed without a wax candle; such incidents might be made to provoke much delightful laughter, and be supposed to represent scenes of "life." Or if, on the contrary, we had taken a fancy for the terrible, and made the lover of the new femme de chambre a professional burglar, who bursts into the house with his band, slaughters black Sambo at the feet of his master, and carries off Amelia in her night-dress, not to be let loose again till the third volume, we should easily have constructed a tale of thrilling interest, through the fiery chapters of which the reader should hurry, panting. But my readers must hope for no such romance, only a homely story, and must be content with a chapter about Vauxhall. (6.1-2)
It's interesting that Thackeray is pretending that different literary genres would be set on different rungs of the social ladder. Of course, we know that this story actually will at some point feature lords and even a marquis and still will "provoke delightful laughter." At the same time, it will have moments of "thrilling interest" without being set in the servants' chambers. Why then this aside about how tone and rank have to go together?