I recently decided to sit down with some Dickens, and, lawyer that I am renewed an acquaintance with “Bleak House” with its plot centered around a case involving a will, Jarndyce and Jarndyce. I came upon the following (spoken by the solicitor Tulkinghorn in response to a threat):

“So much the poorer you; so much the richer I! Look, mistress, this is the key of my wine-cellar. It is a large key, but the keys of prisons are larger. In this city there are houses of correction (where the treadmills are, for women), the gates of which are very strong and heavy, and no doubt the keys too. I am afraid a lady of your spirit and activity would find it an inconvenience to have one of those keys turned upon her for any length of time. What do you think?”

Treadmills? A bit of googling, and I found this:

treadmill – kind of like today’s StairMaster. Prisoners climbed steps along a rotating cylinder designed to keep them mindlessly occupied and wear them out physically. Outlawed in 1898.

Ouch. Indeed, there are those who would have them outlawed again. Alas, though, they are a necessary evil. And, indeed, they do sound more like StairMasters than treadmills.

The book, all 800+ pages, is a schlog, but worth it. One can, however, enjoy the BBC version (although it does take some liberties, particularly in the final stages):


A slight follow-up on my Clock post. NYRR told me, “Our Events team go through every course and make sure it complies with the official race standards” to which I responded, “It seems, though, that you are channeling Chico Marx, who famously said ‘Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?’ Of course if the ‘official race standards’ are ‘put the cones wherever you feel like it’, then I guess you have your compliance.” My correspondent is just the messenger, and I enjoy our back-and-forth.