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24
HWICCE—HYACINTH

by Dr Guppy (Journal of China Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xvi.) that the sediment brought down by the three northern rivers of China, viz., the Yangtsze, the Hwang-ho and the Peiho, is 24,000 million cub. ft. per annum, and is sufficient to fill up the whole of the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Pechili in the space of about 36,000 years.

Unlike the Yangtsze, the Hwang-ho is of no practical value for navigation. The silt and sand form banks and bars at the mouth, the water is too shallow in winter and the current is too strong in summer, and, further, the bed of the river is continually shifting. It is this last feature which has earned for the river the name “ China's sorrow." As the silt-laden waters debouch from the rocky bed of the upper reaches on to the plains, the current slackens, and the coarser detritus settles on the bottom. By degrees the bed rises, and the people build embankments to prevent the river from overflowing. As the bed rises the embankments must be raised too, until the stream is flowing many feet above the level of the surrounding country. As time goes on the situation becomes more and more dangerous; finally, a breach occurs, and the whole river pours over the country, carrying destruction and ruin with it. If the breach cannot be repaired the river leaves its old channel entirely and finds a new exit to the sea along the line of least resistance. Such in brief has been the story of the river since the dawn of Chinese history. At various times it has discharged its waters alternately on one side or the other of the great mass of mountains forming the promontory of Shantung, and by mouths as far apart from each other as 500 m. At each change it has worked havoc and disaster by covering the cultivated fields with 2 or 3 ft. of sand and mud.

A great change in the river's course occurred in 1851, when a breach was made in the north embankment near Kaifen fu in Honan. At this point the river bed was some 25 ft. above the plain; the water consequently forsook the old channel entirely and poured over the level country, finally seizing on the bed of a small river called the Tsing, and thereby finding an exit to the sea. Since that time the new channel thus carved out has remained the proper course of the river, the old or southerly channel being left quite dry. It required some fifteen or more years to repair damages from this outbreak, and to confine the stream by new embankments. After that there was for a time comparative immunity from inundations, but in 1882 fresh outbursts again began. The most serious of all took place in 1887, when it appeared probable that there would be again a permanent change in the river's course. By dint of great exertions, however, the government succeeded in closing the breach, though not till January 1889, and not until there had been immense destruction of life and property. The outbreak on this occasion occurred, as all the more serious outbreaks have done, in Honan, a few miles west of the city of Kaifengfu. The stream poured itself over the level and fertile country to the southwards, sweeping whole villages before it, and converting the plain into one vast lake. The area affected was not less than 50,000 sq. m. and the loss of life was computed at over one million. Since 1887 there have been a series of smaller outbreaks, mostly at points lower down and in the neighbourhood of Chinanfu, the capital of Shantung. These perpetually occurring disasters entail a heavy expense on the government; and from the mere pecuniary point of view it would well repay them to call in the best foreign engineering skill available, an expedient, however, which

has not commended itself to the Chinese authorities.

(G. J.)


HWICCE, one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Its exact dimensions are unknown; they probably coincided with those of the old diocese of Worcester, the early bishops of which bore the title “ Episcopus Hwicciorum.” It would therefore include Worcestershire, Gloucestershire except the Forest of Dean, the southern half of Warwickshire, and the neighbourhood of Bath. The name Hwicce survives in Wychwood in Oxfordshire and Whichford in Warwickshire. These districts, or at all events the southern portion of them, were according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 577, originally conquered by the West Saxons under Ceawlin. In later times, however, the kingdom of the Hwicce appears to have been always subject to Mercian supremacy, and possibly it was separated from Wessex in the time of Edwin. The first kings of whom we read were two brothers, Eanhere and Eanfrith, probably contemporaries of Wulfhere. They were followed by a king named Osric, a contemporary of Ethelred, and he by a king Oshere. Oshere had three sons who reigned after him, Æthelheard, Æthelweard and Æthelric. The two last named appear to have been reigning in the year 706. At the beginning of Offa's, reign we again find the kingdom ruled by three brothers, named Eanberht, Uhtred and Aldred, the two latter of whom lived until about 780. After them the title of king seems to have been given up. Their successor Æthelmund, who was killed in a campaign against Wessex in 802, is described only as an earl. The district remained in possession of the rulers of Mercia until the fall of that kingdom. Together with the rest of English Mercia it submitted to King Alfred about 877–883 under Earl Æthelred, who possibly himself belonged to the Hwicce. No genealogy or list of kings has been preserved, and we do not know whether the dynasty was connected with that of Wessex or Mercia.

See Bede, Historia eccles. (edited by C. Plummer) iv. 13 (Oxford, 1896); W. de G. Birch, Cartularlurn Saxonicurn, 43, 51, 76, 85, 116, 117,

122, 163, 187, 232, 233, 238 (Oxford, 1885–1889).


HYACINTH (Gr. ὑάκινθος), also called Jacinth (through Ital. giacinto), one of the most popular of spring garden flowers. It was in cultivation prior to 1597, at which date it is mentioned by Gerard. Rea in 1665 mentions several single and double varieties as being then in English gardens, and Justice in 1754 describes upwards of fifty single-flowered varieties, and nearly one hundred double-flowered ones, as a selection of the best from the catalogues of two then celebrated Dutch growers. One of the Dutch sorts, called La Reine de Femmes, a single white, is said to have produced from thirty-four to thirty-eight flowers in a spike, and on its first appearance to have sold for 50 guilders a bulb; while one called Overwinnaar, or Conqueror, a double blue, sold at first for 100 guilders, Gloria Mundi for 500 guilders, and Koning Saloman for 600 guilders. Several sorts are at that date mentioned as blooming well in water-glasses. Justice relates that he himself raised several very valuable double-flowered kinds from seeds, which many of the sorts he describes are noted for producing freely.

The original of the cultivated hyacinth, Hyacinthus orientalis, a native of Greece and Asia Minor, is by comparison an insignificant plant, bearing on a spike only a few small, narrow-lobed, washy blue flowers, resembling in form those of our common bluebell. So great has been the improvement effected by the florists, and chiefly by the Dutch, that the modern hyacinth would scarcely be recognized as the descendant of the type above referred to, the spikes being long and dense, composed of a large number of flowers; the spikes produced by strong bulbs not infrequently measure 6 to 9 in. in length and from 7 to 9 in. in circumference, with the flowers closely set on from bottom to top. Of late years much improvement has been effected in the size of the individual flowers and the breadth of their recurving lobes, as well as in securing increased brilliancy and depth of colour.

The peculiarities of the soil and climate of Holland are so very favourable to their production that Dutch florists have made a specialty of the growth of those and other bulbous-rooted flowers. Hundreds of acres are devoted to the growth of hyacinths in the vicinity of Haarlem, and bring in a revenue of several hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some notion of the vast number imported into England annually may be formed from the fact that, for the supply of flowering plants to Covent Garden, one market grower alone produces from 60,000 to 70,000 in pots under glass, their blooming period being accelerated by artificial heat, and extending from Christmas onwards until they bloom naturally in the open ground.

In the spring flower garden few plants make a more effective display than the hyacinth. Dotted in clumps in the flower borders, and arranged in masses of well-contrasted colours in beds in the flower garden, there are no flowers which impart during their season—March and April—a gayer tone to the parterre. The bulbs are rarely grown a second time, either for indoor or outdoor culture, though with care they might be utilized for the latter purpose; and hence the enormous numbers which are procured each recurring year from Holland.

The first hyacinths were single-flowered, but towards the close of the 17th century double-flowered ones began to appear, and till a recent period these bulbs were the most esteemed. At the present time, however, the single-flowered sorts are in the ascendant, as they produce more regular and symmetrical spikes of blossom, the flowers being closely set and more or less horizontal in direction, while most of the double sorts have the bells distant and dependent, so that the spike is loose and by comparison