Blind Man's Buff, though
not a rhyme-game, is yet so well known it is worth mentioning for the
mere purpose of telling its story. Like many more such—if we only knew
how—it is based on fact. It is of French origin, and of very great
antiquity, having been introduced into Britain in the train of the Roman
conquerors. Its French name, "Colin Maillard," was that of a brave
warrior, the memory of whose exploits still lives in the chronicles of
the Middle Ages.
In the year 999) Liege
reckoned among its valiant chiefs one Jean Colin. He acquired the name
Maillard from his chosen weapon being a mallet, wherewith in battle he
used literally to crush his opponents.
In one of the feuds which
were of perpetual recurrence in those times, he encountered the Count de
Lourain in a pitched battle, and—so runs the story—in the first onset
Colin Maillard lost both his eyes.
He ordered his esquire to
take him into the thickest of the fight, and, furiously brandishing his
mallet, did such fearful execution that victory soon declared itself for
When Robert of France
heard of these feats of arms, he lavished favour and Honours upon Colin,
and so great was the fame of the exploit that it was commemorated in the
pantomimic representations that formed part of the rude dramatic
performances of the age. By degrees the children learned to act it for
themselves, and it took the form of a familiar sport.
The blindfold pursuer, as
with bandaged eyes and extended hands he gropes for a victim to pounce
upon, seems in some degree to repeat the action of Colin Maillard, the
tradition of which is also traceable in the manse, "Blind man's buff."