He was educated at the village school until the age of twelve, and owing to congenital lameness had to walk with crutches.
In 1839 he met with an accident which resulted in permanent lameness, and unfitted him for active service.
He was of medium height and carried himself so well that his lameness was hardly noticeable.
A fanciful explanation of his lameness is that it alludes to the elegiac couplet, one verse of which is shorter than the other.
The lameness of the Greeks in angular measurement would alone show that they could not derive itinerary measures from long and accurately determined distances on the earth.
In Vedic poetry Agni, the fire-god, is footless; and the ancients themselves attributed this lameness to the crooked appearance of flame (Servius on Aen.
In art no attempt was made, as a rule, to indicate the lameness of Hephaestus; but one sculptor (Alcamenes) is said to have suggested the deformity without spoiling the statue.