Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/933

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The body is stout and thickly built; the legs are short and strong, and armed, especially the anterior pair, with long curved claws; the tail is short; and the ears are reduced to rudiments. The skull is conical, stout and heavy, and the teeth, although sharper and less rounded than those of badgers, are less suited to a carnivorous diet than those of stoats, weasels and martens. The two ratels may be distinguished by the fact that the African species has a distinct white line round the body at the junction of the grey of the upper side with the black of the lower, while in the Indian this line is absent; the teeth also of the former are larger, rounder and heavier than those of the latter. The two are, however, so nearly allied that they might almost be considered geographical races of a single species. Dr T. C. Ierdon states that the Indian ratel is found throughout the

The African Ratel (Mellivora ratel).

whole of India, from the extreme south to the foot of the Himalaya, chiefly in hilly districts, where it has greater facilities for constructing the holes and dens in which it lives; but also in the north of India in alluvial plains, where the banks of large rivers afford equally suitable localities wherein to make its lair. It is stated to live usually in pairs, and to eat rats, birds, frogs, white ants and various insects, and in the north of India it is accused of digging out dead bodies, and several of the native names mean “ grave-digger. ” Dr W. T. Blanford, in the Fauna of British I ndta, is of opinion that the reproach is without foundation. Like its Cape congener it occasionally partakes of honey, and is often destructive to poultry. In confinement the Indian ratel becomes tame and even playful, , displaying a habit of tumbling head over heels. (R. L.*)

RATH, GERHABD VOM (1830-1888), German mineralogist, was born at Dinsburg in Prussia, on the 20th of August 1830. He was educated at Cologne, at Bonn University, and finally at Berlin, where he graduated Ph.D. in 1853. In 1856 he became assistant to Noggerath in the mineralogical museum at Bonn, and succeeded to the directorship in 1872. Meanwhile in 1863 he was appointed extraordinary professor of geology, and in 1872 he became professor of geology and mineralogy in the university at Bonn. He was distinguished for his accurate researches on mineralogy and crystallography; he described a great many new minerals, some of which were discovered by him, and he contributed largely to our knowledge of other minerals, notably in an essay on tridymite. He travelled much in southern Europe, Palestine and the United States, and wrote several essays on petrology, geology and physical geography, on earthquakes and on meteorites. He died at Coblenz on the 2 3rd of April 1888.

His separate publications included Ein Ausflug nach Kalabrien (1871); Der Monzoni im .vuktéstlichen Tirol (1875); and Durch Italien und Griechenland nach dem Heiligen Land (2 vols., 1882). See Obituary with bibliography by Professor H. Laspeyres, in Sitzungsbericht des nat. Vereins der preussischen Rheinlande (1888).

RATHENOW, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of' Brandenburg, on the Havel, 45 m. N.W. of Berlin on the main railway to Hanover, Pop. (1905) 23,095, including the garrison. The Protestant church of St Mary and St Andrew, originally a basilica, and transformed to the Gothic style in 1517–1589, and the Roman Catholic church of St George, are noteworthy. Rathenow is known for its “ Rathenow stones,” bricks made of the clay of the Havel, and for its spectacles and optical instruments, which are exported.

Rathenow received its incorporation as a town in 1295. In 1394 it was taken and partly destroyed by the archbishop of Magdeburg. It suffered much from the ravages of the Thirty Years' War, being occupied in turn by the Saxons and the Swedes, from whom in 1675 it was taken by the Brandenburgers, when most of the garrison were put to the sword.

See Wagener, Denkwürdigkeiten der Stadt Rathenow (Berlin, 1903).

RATIBOR (Polish Raciborz), a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Silesia, pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Oder at the point where the river becomes navigable, 13 m. from the Austrian frontier and Q7 m. by rail S.E. of Breslau, on the main line to Odcrberg. Pop. (1905) 32,690. The most prominent buildings are the handsome law-courts by Schinkel and the imposing chateau of the dukes of Ratibor, which occupies a commanding position on the right bank of the Oder. The town is the seat of various industries, the chief products of which are machinery, railway gear, iron wares, tobacco, cigars, paper, sugar, furniture and glass. Trade is carried on in these and in coal, wood and agricultural produce, while hemp and vegetables are largely grown in the environs. Ratibor, which received municipal privileges in 1217, was formerly the capital of an independent duchy, 380 sq. m. in extent, which existed from 1288 to 1532, and afterwards passed successively into the hands of Austria and Prussia. In 1821 a small mediate principality was formed out of the old lordship of Ratibor and certain ecclesiastical domains, and was conferred upon Victor Amadeus, land grave of Hesse-Rotenburg, as compensation for some Hessian territory absorbed by Prussia. The title of duke of Ratibor was revived in 1840 for his heir, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfiirst (1818-1893). See A. Weltzel, Geschichte der Stadt and Herrschaft Ratibor (2nd ed., Ratibor, 1881).

RATIONALISM (from Lat. rational is, pertaining to reason, ratio), a term employed both in philosophy and in theology for any system which sets up human reason as the final criterion and chief source of knowledge. Such systems are opposed to all doctrines which rest solely or ultimately upon external authority; the individual must investigate everything for himself and abandon any position the validity of which cannot be rationally demonstrated. The rationalist spirit is, of course, coeval with human evolution; religion itself began with a rational attempt to maintain amicable relations with unknown powers, and each one of the dead religions succumbed before the development of rationalist inquiry into its premises. But the term has acquired more special connotations in modern thought. In its commonest use it is applied to all who decline to accept the authority of the Bible as the infallible record of a divine revelation, and is practically synonymous with freethinking. This type of rationalism is based largely upon the results of modern historical and archaeological investigation. The story of the Creation in the book of Genesis is shown, from the point of view of chronology, to be a poetic or symbolic account by the discovery of civilizations of much greater antiquity. Again, the study of comparative religion (e. g. the study of the Deluge (q. v.), showing as it does that similar stories are to be found in primitive literature, both oriental and other) has placed the Bible in closing relation with other ancient literature. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is thus regarded even by orthodox Christians from a. rationalist standpoint,