Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/242

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ordinary French name, jeu de la crosse. In Spanish, the game has long been known as chueca. The Spaniards taught it to the natives of South America, who took kindly to it, not as mere boys' play, but as a manly sport. It is curious to read accounts by modern European travelers, who seem not to recognize their own playground game when transplanted among the Araucanians of Chili, even though it shows its Spanish origin by the name of chueca. Seeing this, one asks whence did the North American Indians get their famous ball-play, known from California right across the Indian country? It is to all intents the European chueca, crosse, or hockey, the deerskin ball being thrown up in the middle, each of the two contending parties striving to throw or drive it through the adversaries' goal. The Iroquois say that in old times their forefathers played with curved clubs and a wooden ball, before the racket was introduced, with which to strike, carry, or throw the leather ball. Of all the describers of this fine game, Catlin has best depicted its scenes with pen and pencil, from its beginning with the night ball-play dance, where the players crowded round their goals, held up and clashed their rackets, and the women danced in lines between, and the old men smoked to the Great Spirit and led the chant for his favor in the contest. The painter would never miss a ball-play, but sit from morning till sundown on his pony, studying the forms of the young athletes in their "almost superhuman" struggles for the ball, till at last one side made the agreed number of goals, and divided with yells of triumph the fur robes and tin kettles and miscellaneous property staked on the match. Now, as to the introduction of the game into North America, the Jesuit missionaries in New France, as early as 1636, mention it by their own French name of jeu de crosse, at which Indian villages contended "à qui crossera le mieux." The Spaniards, however, had been above a century in America, and might have brought it in, which is a readier explanation than the other possible alternative that it made its way across from southeast Asia.

When the middle ages set in, the European mind at last became awake to the varied pleasure to be got out of hitting a ball with a bat. The games now developed need not be here spoken of at length proportioned to their great place in modern life, as the changes which gave rise to them are so comparatively modern and well known. The Persian apparatus kept close to its original form in the game of pall-mall, that is, " ball-mallet," into which game was introduced the arch or ring to drive the ball through, whereby enough incident was given to knocking it about to make the sport fit for a few players, or even a single pair. An account of pall-mall and its modern revival in croquet will be found in Dr. Prior's little book. Playing the ball into holes serves much the same purpose as sending it through rings, and thus came in the particular kind of bandy called golf, from the clubs used to drive the ball. The stool-ball, so popular in mediæval merrymak-