Who is Blondin?

In The Sign of Four, Holmes states: “… watch out for Blondin….”  What is the significance of this? What is he referring to?

3 Replies to “Who is Blondin?”

  1. “Jean François Gravelet-Blondin (24 February 1824 – 22 February 1897) was a French tightrope walker and acrobat.” Some one (we find out it’s Tonga) seems to have walked in impossible places. Could it have been an acrobat? Well, it wasn’t, but it might have been.

  2. “Tightrope walker and acrobat” does not begin to cover the feats of Blondin. He was famous for walking across Niagara Fall, not once but many times. The first time in June of 1859 he would stop about every 150 feet to sit down on the rope or lay on his back or stand on one foot until he got to the middle where he would lower a small line to the Maid of the Mist waiting below and the captain attached a bottle of wine which Blondin reeled up and saluting the crowds on both sides and drank to their health. He would cross the fall walking backwards, rolling a wheelbarrow, with his body in a sack, in an ape suit, dressed as a chef carrying a stove and when he reached the middle put it on the rope and proceeded to cook an omelet which he then lowered to the Maid of the Mist. He was a worldwide celebrity whose feats were so incredible as to be doubted by those who did not witness them. In 1861, he journeyed to England and performed at the Crystal Palace where he repeated many of his Niagara stunts as well a crossing in a suit of armor and with his 5 year old daughter on his back. His many shows at the Crystal Palace were so successful, Blondin eventually made England his home. It is quite likely the Holmes actually saw Blondin’s incredible feats in his youth. This information comes from “Inventing the Victorians” by Matthew Sweet.

  3. Thanks! I learned a great deal from both these replies. I was reading The Sign of Four last evening and I came to that line and it dawned on me that I had no idea who Blondin was. Now, that is at least the 70th time I have read the book, and it was the very first time I ever noticed “Blondin.” Ya just gotta love the incredible steel trap mind!

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