I shall proceed to adduce in favour of a single member, in opposition to what I am forced to confess is the general current opinion, an opinion resulting as I hope to shew [sic.], from inconsiderate habit and the mere accident of birth. Let us glance, then, in the outset, at the numberless miseries and calamities in every shape that lie in wait for the thoughtless bipeds who on two active legs run to-and-fro upon the earth, and, mounted on “Shank’s naggie,” rush headlong to their hurt. Let him number who can the fractures, the maimings, the fatal results that have ensued from these rampant and foolhardy exploits in which a man of single sole would never engage, and could not if he would. How many enterprising youths have broken their necks through having one leg too much? How many have jumped at all, had they, instead of elastic flesh and sinew, possessed good wooden substitutes? How many have sunk in the fateful flood who would never have dreamed of swimming with a timber-toe? and how many have followed their heedless noses into irretrievable mischief, who would have remained safe from all harm upon a single foot? Then look at the double risks of the double-footed, even in calamities that come unsought. The gout, that horrible visitant, has but half a victim in a one-legged man; of corns, also, he has but half a crop; his bunions never mar his quiet pilgrimage; and, come what may, he cannot by any possibility suffer from damp feet. [. . .]
Then the man of one leg, it must not be forgotten, is the possessor of certain physical advantages to which the biped is for ever a stranger. He is exempt by law from all personal participation in the turmoils and brutalities of war. A man of peace by Act of Parliament, he never incurs the disgrace of running away, or is laughed at for avoiding a combat by shewing what he has not got “a fair pair of heels”—though if by any aggression he is driven to his shifts, he can, upon an emergency, find a footing where the greatest hero upon two legs could not make a stand. Or he may cross a steam dry-shot where another would get up to his knee in water, simply by plunging his insensible substitute in the middle, and transferring the natural limb to the opposite bank. [. . .] Moreover, in cases of emergency, when it becomes necessary to put the best foot foremost, he is never hesitating and at a loss, like your bipeds, being at no pains on deciding between the leg which cost him nothing, and that which has cost him perhaps from ten shillings to ten pounds, as taste or circumstances may have led him to the adoption of the convenient cork, the patent spring, or the unsophisticated but manly stump, in the choice of a pedestal. I might enumerate many other advantages which contribute to his exclusive enjoyment, were I so disposed, but I scorn to accumulate evidence in favour of a truth which the reader must by this time be ready to admit, and shall proceed, as in fairness bound, to notice the objections that may be urged by prejudiced bipeds against his fortunate condition.
 A Scottish phrase literally meaning “to ride on Shank’s mare”. To “shank” is “To set off smartly, to walk away with expedition” (Jamieson 342). In this context, then, Smith means merely to walk with great haste. See Jamieson, John. Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language. Vol. 2. Edinburgh, 1825.
 Like nowadays, men wishing to enlist in the British Army faced a medical screening. If an applicant did not match certain physical requirements, he was not offered an enlistment (which were typically for ten or twelve years). For more on British Army enlistment, see Skelley, Alan Ramsay. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1977.
 There was in fact a huge difference in price between top-of-the-range artificial legs (such as those made by British prosthetist Frederick Gray and the Americans Frank Palmer and A. A. Marks) and peg legs, which were produced by carpenters, cabinet makers and doctors as well as by prosthesis specialists. Mexican political leader Antonio López de Santa Anna, who lost his leg fighting the French in 1839, is said to have purchased two high-tech wooden legs from an American cabinet maker for a staggering $1,300 a piece. By contrast, in 1888 A. A. Marks charged just $10 a piece for his cheapest peg legs. For more on nineteenth-century British currency, see Marje Bloy’s “British Currency before 1971” on The Victorian Web.