Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/932

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
915
RASTENBURG—RATEL

RASTENBURG, a town of Germany, in the province of East Prussia, lying in a flat sandy plain on the Guber, 64 m. S.E. of Konigsberg by the railway to Prostken. Pop. (1905) 11,889. Its principal manufactures are flour, sugar, oil, beer and machinery. In the vicinity is Karlshof, a celebrated establishment for the cure of epileptic diseases. See Beckherrn, Mittheilungen aus Rastenburgs Vergangenheit (Rastenburg, 1891); and Schaffer, Chronik von Rastenburg (Rastenburg, 1889).


RAT (a word common to Teut. and Rom. languages; probably first adopted in Teut.; the ultimate origin is not known; Skeat suggests the root rad-, to scratch; cf. Ger. Ratte, Dan. rotte, Fr. ral, &c.), probably in its original sense the designation of the British rodent mammal commonly known as the black rat (M ns raltns), but also applied indifferently to the brown or Norway rat (M . norvegicus), and in a still wider sense to all the larger representatives of the genus M us, as to many other members of the family Muridae. In fact, as mentioned in the article Mouse, there is no possibility of defining the term “ rat ” when used in a sense other than as relating to the two species above mentioned; while there is also no hard-and-fast limit between the terms “ rats” and “ mice ” when these are likewise employed in their now extended sense, “ rats ” being merely larger “ mice, ” and vice versa. Rats have, however, generally more rows of scales

Black Rat (Mtzs ratius).

on the tail (reaching

to 210 or more) than

mice, in which the

number does not

exceed 180. For the

distinctive characteristics

of the family

Muridae and the

genus Mus, to which

1 true rats and true mice alike belong, see

RODENTIA. O t e

he »' F ., two British species

  • ' " ' -, g ='. "=H¢ r,

és' ' 'he '°f°W“= 0' N°¥

V way rat (M norvegi-54%

cus) is distinguished

/ /df ., ,, Z,5Z'j, -*, {¢1»%3ca~-7 'ef-, »/ Lgfgf f by its large size,

~ -'?rff?i':'fr- Z;, ;.”'5”“ )“' ' brownish grey colour,

Brown Rat (M. norvegicus).

short tail and ears,

stout skull, and the

possession of from ro to 12 teats. . It is fierce and cunning, and easily overcomes all allied species with which it is brought in contact. Its original home would seem to have been some part of Central Asia, an indigenous species from China, M. humiliates, being so like it that in all probability the latter is the original race from which it has sprung. Thence it has spread to all parts of the world, driving out the house-haunting species everywhere, as it has in England all but exterminated the black rat. The brown rat migrated westwards from Central Asia early in the 18th century, and is believed to have first reached Great Britain about 1730. Its already evil reputation has been increased of late years by the fact that it is one of the chief disseminators of bubonic plague. Black phases are not uncommon. The black rat (M. roltus) is distinguishable from the brown rat by its smaller size, longer ears and tail, and glossy black colour. It shares the roving habits of the latter, frequenting ships and by these means reaching various parts of the world. On this account either the typical form or the tropical M . rottus alexandrinus is common in many places to which the brown species has not yet penetrated, for instance in South America. This long-tailed rat, originally a native of India, would seem to have first penetrated to all parts of the world and to have nearly or quite exterminated the indigenous rats. After this followed the advance of the more powerful brown rat. The black rat first reached Europe in the 13th century; but of late years another and still darker phase of the species, the Black Sea black rat (M. ratlns ater) made its appearance in England. The Isle of Dogs and Yarmouth, in Norfolk, are reported to be the chief of the English strongholds of the black rat. Both species agree in their predaceous habits, omnivorous diet and great fecundity. They bear, four or five times in the year, from four to ten blind and naked young, which are in their turn able to breed at an age of about six months; the time of gestation being about twenty days.

See ]. G. Millais, “ The True Position of M ns rattus and its Allies, " Zoologist, June 1905. (R. L.*)


RATAFIA, a liqueur or cordial flavoured with peach or cherry kernels, bitter almonds, or other fruits; many different varieties are made. The same name is given to a Havouring essence resembling bitter almonds, and also to a light biscuit. The word is adapted from the French of the 17th century. Skeat (Etym. Diet., 1910) quotes as a possible origin a combination of Malay aroq, arrack, and tafia, rum.


RATE, a general term for proportion, standard, allowance, tax (Med. Lat. rata, from pro rata parte, rains being the participle of reri, to think, judge). In England the term is specially applied to the levying of public money contributions for local purposes, as distinguished from the “ taxes ” raised for what are treated as general state purposes. The money required for local administration in England is raised (when the ordinary revenues are insufficient) by assessments on lands and buildings based on their annual rental Value. The hnancial authority estimates what additional amount beyond revenue is required for the expenses of administration, and levies a rate to meet it. The earliest rate levied in England was that for poor relief, and of the great variety of rates now existing, the majority are based on the poor rate and levied with it, under the term of precept rates. Next to the poor rate came that for highways, and other special rates have been authorized from time to time, as for police, education, public lighting, cemeteries, libraries, sanitary purposes, &c. To distinguish the rate the name of the precepting authority is frequently added or the purpose for which it is levied specified, as county rate, watch rate, &c. The valuation list of a parish is the basis on which the poor rate is levied. This valuation list contains the gross estimated rental and rateable value of all rateable property in the parish. The gross estimated rental is the rent at which a property might reasonably be expected to let from year to year, the tenant paying tithes, rates and taxes. From this is deducted the average annual cost of repairs, insurance and renewals, the balance constituting the rateable value. The rateable value of the parish being known, so much on each pound of the rateable value as will equal the amount required to be raised is levied, and is known as the “rate.” See further ENGLAND, Local Government; TAXATION.

Rating, in maritime vocabulary, is the classification of men according to rank, and was formerly employed to class ships of a navy according to strength. A sailor is said to be “ rated A.B., ” or in the navy “ rated petty officer, ” “ seaman, ” “ gunner, ” and so on. The rating of ships began in the 17th century, and was at first done roughly by size and number of crew. Later the rating was by guns. Thus in 1741 in the British navy there were six rates: 1st, 100 guns; znd, 90; 3rd, 70 to 80; 4th, 50 to 60; 5th, 40; and 6th, zo. Sloops, fire ships, bomb-vessels and royal yachts were said to be not rated. The classification of ships into six rates, and into rated and non-rated ships, continued during the existence of the old sailing fleets, with modifications in detail. The practice of other navies was similar to the British.


RATEL, or HONEY-BADGER, the name of certain Indian and African small clumsy-looking creatures of about the size and appearance of badgers, representing the genus M ellivora in the family Mustelidae (see CARNIVORA). Two species of ratel are commonly recognized, the Indian (M . vndica), and the African (M. ratel), which ranges over Africa, but a black ratel from the Ituri forest has been separated as M. coltoni. Both the two former are iron-grey on the upper parts, and black below, a style of coloration rare among mammals, as the upper side of the body is in the great majority darker than the lower.