Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/893

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said to crack and break easily when sharply bent, and on account of their hairy character have not the same smart appearance as those made from flax. Although the fibre is in some cases 12 in. long, it varies considerably in length. This is one of the drawbacks in the preparing and spinning. It is impossible to make perfect yarns from fibres of various lengths; hence it is necessary either to separate the fibres into reasonable groups, or to cut them into satisfactory lengths. The latter method appears, on the whole, to be the better, and it is the method adopted by Messrs Greenwood & Batley Limited, Leeds, who make special machinery for the dressing, preparing and spinning of ramie and China-grass. If no special machinery be employed, the length of the fibre will decide the class of machinery to be used. The fibre has been prepared and spun on flax, wool and silk-waste machinery, but it must be understood that none of these systems are really suitable for the process. A fibre with special characteristics requires special machinery for its manufacture.

When so many different opinions obtain as to which existing machinery is best adapted for the preparing and spinning of ramie, it is not surprising to find that different methods are employed in the process of manufacture. In general, however, we may say that, after decortication, the first process is that of degumming. This is usually done by immersing the fibre in a caustic soda solution, which is then heated in a closed vessel. The fibre is laid on galvanized trays, of which as many as forty-four can be fitted in a cage, which is then placed inside the boiling keir, the lid of which is screwed down and the necessary pressure of steam admitted. After having been boiled a sufficient time to remove the gum, the material is lifted out, the alkali neutralized, and the fibre thoroughly washed to remove all traces of chemicals. The bulk of the water is removed by a hydro-extractor. and the fibre is then hung up or laid on perforated plates to dry.

To facilitate the subsequent processes, the fibre is softened by passing it through a machine fitted with fluted rollers. Then follow the operations of dressing, roving, wet spinning and doubling, and finally the twisted thread is passed rapidly through a gas flame in order' to remove all superfluous hairs.

In spite of the many disappointments which have been experienced in Connexion with the treatment of this fibre, we are of the opinion that it will ultimately hold a good place amongst commercial fibres. It is at present spun in several European countries, but its use is still very limited. This is due, not to any imperfection of the fibre, but to its price and to the limited supply of raw material. It is at present chiefly used for gas mantles, for which it is particularly well adapted. It has also been used for paper-making, ropes, lines, nets, underwear, and for canvas and several other fabrics. If only a good supply of clean fibre could be obtained, there is not the least doubt that manufacturers and machine-makers would quickly provide means for dealing with it.

(T. Wo.)

RAMILLIES, a village of Belgium, in the province of Brabant, 13 miles N. by E. of Namur, between the sources of the Little Gheete and of the Mehaigne. It is famous for the victory of the Allies under the duke of Marlborough over the French commanded by Marshal Villeroy on the 12th/23rd of May 1706. The position of the French on the high ground about Ramillies was marked by the villages of Autréglise (Anderkirch) on the left, Ofiuz on the left centre, Ramillies on the right centre and Taviers on the right close to the river Mehaigne. In front of the last was a smaller village, Franquenay, which was held as an advanced post. Between these points d'appui the ground was mostly open upland, and the position as a whole was defective in so far that the villages were barely within cannon-shot of each other. It was particularly strong on the flanks, which were protected by the marshy beds of the Mehaigne and the Little Gheete. Ramillies stands almost on the watershed of these adjacent valleys, and here Marlborough decided to deliver his main attack. The forces were about equal, and were at first equally distributed along the whole line of either party. Marlborough's local concentration of force at the spot where the attack was to be pressed home was made not before, but after the action had opened (cf. Neerwinden). Villeroy's left wing of cavalry and infantry was secure-and at the same time immobilized-behind the upper course of the Little Gheete, and the French commander allowed himself to be imposed upon by a demonstration in this quarter, convinced perhaps by the presence of the British contingent that a serious attack was intended. The morning was spent in arraying the lines of battle, and it was about 1.3o when the cannonade opened. Soon the first lines of infantry of the Allied centre and left (Dutch) opened the attacks on Franquenay and Taviers and on Ramillies, and, when after a severe struggle Taviers fell into the hands of the Dutch, their commander, Marshal Overkirk, led forward the whole of the left wing cavalry and fiercely engaged the French cavalry opposed to it. The ground was open, both parties had placed the greater part of their horse on this side, and it was only after a severe and prolonged engagement (in which Marlborough himself took part like a trooper and was unhorsed) that the Allies were definitely victorious, thanks to the arrival of a force of cavalry brought over from the Allied right wing. Meanwhile the principal attack on Ramillies had been successfully pressed home, the necessary concentration of force being secured by secretly and skilfully withdrawing some British battalions from the right Wing. While Villeroy was trying to bring up supports from the left to take part in the cavalry battle, the French in Ramillies were driven out into the open, where the Allied cavalry, having now gained the upper hand, rode down many battalions. Most of the French cavalry from the other wing, having to force its way through the baggage trains of the army (these had been placed too near the fighting lines), arrived too late, and once Ramillies had fallen the whole line of the Allies gradually took up the offensive. It was not long before the French line was rolled up from right to left, and the retreat of the French was only effected in considerable confusion. Then followed for once a relentless pursuit, carried on by the British cavalry (which had scarcely been engaged) to Louvain, 20 m. from the field of battle. Marlborough's unequalled tactical skill and judgment thus sufficed not merely to win the battle, but to win it with so large a margin of force unexpanded that the fruits of his victory could be gathered. The French army lost, in killed, wounded and missing, some 15,000 men, the Allies (amongst whom the Dutch had borne the brunt of the nghting) scarcely one-third as many.

RAMLER, KARL WILHELM (1725–1798), German poet, was born at Kolberg on the 25th of February 172 5. After completing his studies in Halle, he went to Berlin, where, in 1748, he was appointed professor of logic and literature at the cadet school. In 1786 he became associated with the author, Johann Jakob Engel, in the management of the royal theatre, of which, after resigning his professorship, he became (1790-96) sole director. He died at Berlin on the 11th of April 1798. Ramler was a skilful but cold and uninspired versifier; and the reputation he enjoys as poet and critic is mainly due to his skill in imitating and reproducing in German, classical (mostly Horatian) metrical forms; and he had a reputation, not unfounded, of correcting his friends' writings out of recognition. His Tod Jesu, a Cantata, is well known owing to its musical setting by Karl Heinrich Graun.

Ramler published Geistliche Cantaten (1760) and Oden (1767). A collection of his works was published by L. F. G. von Göckingk (2 vols., 1800-I 801). See also Heinsius, Versuch einer biographischen Skizze Ramler; (1798); and K. Schüddekopf, Karl Wilhelm Ramler, bis zu seiner Verbindung mit Lessing (1886).

RAMMELSBERG, KARL FRIEDRICH AUGUST (1813–1890), German mineralogist, was born at Berlin on the 1st of April 1813. He was educated for the medical profession and graduated in 1837 at Berlin University. In 1841 he became privaidozent in the university, and in 1845 professor extraordinary of chemistry. This post he relinquished in 1851 to take the chair of chemistry and mineralogy at the Royal Industrial Institute. In 1874 he was appointed professor of inorganic chemistry, and director of the second chemical laboratory at Berlin. Distinguished for his researches on mineralogy, crystallography and analytical chemistry, he laboured also at metallurgy, and yet found time for a series of important textbooks, in which his learning and sound judgment were combined with a lucid and accurate statement of facts. He was author of Handwörterbuch des chemischen Teils der Mineralogie (2 vols., 1841; supp. 1843-53), Lehrbuch der chemischen