Mermaid shown in London and Birmingham, 1843

From the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 21st September 1843.

[...] But there is now exhibiting in London, a mermaid, which, though it pretend to no notions of a Deity itself, was regarded as one by some natives of South America, who caught it in the Rio de la Plata, and prepared it after a rude manner for preservation. From them it was purchased, the exhibitor states, by two travellers for the British Museum, the authorities of which have given him special permission to show it for a time.*

The same authority gives the following description of this "mermaid or siren of the sea," as it is designated: --

"The features are both pleasing and interesting; its abundance of hair is extraordinary, but coarse as bristles; its teeth are of a snowy whiteness, without any grinders, with cartilaginous gums, tongue, and roof to the mouth. The two arms, which are short, terminate with short webbed fingers, each having the appearance of a nail at the end. The bust is perfectly that of a woman. The back is nearly covered with fins, and to support its body when sitting up in the water, it has four fins, placed in opposite directions, in front of the body."

An inspection will certainly confirm this statement; and, as naturalists have not condescended to define what a mermaid is under its proper class - mammalia -- we may venture, perhaps, to pronounce this to be as good a one as ever was seen. After being submitted to the view of the Queen and Prince Albert, this "siren of the sea" is to be present at Birmingham during the approaching music festival - a fearful rival to each biped songstress there, who, in competition with this fishwoman, or womanfish, will find herself vox, et preterea nihil.

[F.F. notes: * somehow I doubt this but it's good advertising.]

Weird River Ayr, Scotland


"On Christmas morning, about 8 o'clock, the bed of the river of Air was perceived to be quite dry, from near the ships to the Dam-back, which is a large half-mile. Several gentlemen walked backward and forward in the channel where the water used to run, and the boys catched fishes on dry ground. When the tide began to make, the river returned to its usual bigness, and has continued so ever since." -- Scots Magazine, Dec 1764.

Reprinted in the Scottish Journal of Topography, Antiquities, Traditions, etc.etc.etc. September 4th, 1847.

Sea monster at Porthleven, Cornwall

From the Northampton Mercury, 7th October 1786.

The following comes authenticated from a Gentleman of Morillian, in Cornwall, dated Sept. 15.

Description of a surprizing Sea-Monster driven on Shore in Portleaven-Bay on the Coast of Cornwall, on the 14th of Sept. 1786, by the strong Westerly Winds and tempestuous Weather, which continued for several Days, and did much Damage in that Neighbourhood.

 This Monster was first discovered by two Boys who (agreeable to the Custom of that Place) went in Search of Wreck soon after Day-break; and as they stood on the Cliff which commanded a Prospect of a small Sandy Cove, they, at a Distance of about a Mile, discovered something of enormous Bulk near the Shore, and which after a short Time they apprehended to be the Side or Part of an unfortunate Ship which had the preceding Night been broken to Pieces by the Extremity of the Shore:

They immediately went towards the Place with sanguine Expectation of great Success, and as they approached the Spot (the breaking Waves at Times leaving it dry) they were both struck with the utmost Consternation on perceiving such Motions as convinced them it was something which had Life: They then hastened with great Fear to some Men of their Acquaintance, and related what they had seen in a terrifying Manner: At first their Report was not credited, but after many strong and particular Declarations of the Fact, a great Number of People soon collected themselves into a Body, and determined to go armed, some with large Sticks and Pokers, others with Hatchets, Spits, &c. which was, after some Deliberation, carried into Execution.

On their coming near the Spot they perceived it to be something living, as was represented, and it raised its Head, which had not before ben perceived, and appeared to direct its Course towards them. All were alarmed, some stood their Ground, others possessed with greater Fear turned back; they could see no Legs to it, but it appeared to crawl on its Belly, raising its Body at Times a little from the Sand.

Various were the Opinions about this Creature; some said it was a Mermaid, others a Whale -- but the greater Number disbelieving the Existence of the former, and adhering to the Improbability of the latter, they were all equally at a Loss. When it was agreed to examine what it was, they all went towards it, and after an Hour's beating, stabbing it, &c. it expired with a Groan. Its Length was found to be from the Top of its Head, tot the End of its Tail 48 Feet, 10 Inches, and its Circumference in the largest Part of the Body, 24 Feet and a Half: Its Head was large, and prickly in the hinder Part, and not formed much unlike that of a Man; its Eyes were greenish; its Mouth large; its Nose flat, and from its Neck, to the Naval, resembling nearest to the human Kind; its Back was hard, and more difficult to penetrate than the Shell of a Turtle; it had two short fore Feet, formed like the Paw of a Monkey, and its hinder Parts shaped somewhat like the hinder Part of a Porpoise; it had a large Fan Tail, which, when spread, measured full seven Feet in width at the Extent, and but five Feet long.

It is supposed a large Quantity of Oil will be produced from it, which, with the Shell of its Back and its Fins, are judged, if properly managed, to be of great Value, and will be of considerable Benefit to this Neighbourhood. No one that has seen it, knows its Name, nor has any Monster like it ever been described in Record, or come within the Knowledge of this Kingdom.

Great sea serpent (source)