CHAPTER XXI
MR. MERDLE'S COMPLAINT

UPON that establishment of state, the Merdle establishment in Harley Street, Cavendish Square, there was the shadow of no more common wall than the fronts of other establishments of state on the opposite side of the street. Like unexceptionable Society, the opposing rows of houses in Harley Street were very grim with one another. Indeed, the mansions and their inhabitants were so much alike in that respect, that the people were often to be found drawn up on opposite sides of dinner-tables, in the shade of their own loftiness, staring at the other side of the way with the dulness of the houses.

Everybody knows how like the street, the two dinner-rows of people who take their stand by the street will be. The expressionless uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all fended off by the same pattern of railing, all with the same impracticable fire-escapes, the same inconvenient fixtures in their heads, and everything without exception to be taken at a high valuation -- who has not dined with these? The house so drearily out of repair, the occasional bow-window, the stuccoed house, the newly-fronted house, the corner house with nothing but angular rooms, the house with the blinds always down, the house with the hatchment always up, the house where the collector has called for one quarter of an Idea, and found nobody at home -- who has not dined with these? The house that nobody will take, and is to be had a bargain -- who does not know her? The showy house that was taken for life by the disappointed gentleman, and which does not suit him at all -- who is unacquainted with that haunted habitation?

Harley Street, Cavendish Square, was more than aware of Mr. and Mrs. Merdle. Intruders there were in Harley Street, of whom it was not aware; but Mr. and Mrs. Merdle it delighted to honour. Society was aware of Mr. and Mrs. Merdle. Society had said 'Let us license them; let us know them.'

Mr. Merdle was immensely rich; a man of prodigious enterprise; a Midas without the ears, who turned all he touched to gold. He was in everything good, from banking to building. He was in Parliament, of course. He was in the City, necessarily. He was Chairman of this, Trustee of that, President of the other. The

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