This eight "wonder of the world;" this "frightful monster which the world ne'er saw,"  until the present year, is not the great source of attraction in the British metropolis; and three to four hundred people every day pay their shilling each to see a disgusting sort of a compound animal, which contains in itself every thing that is odious and disagreeable.  but the curiosity to see a real Mermaid, after all the fictions that have been related respecting it, is natural enough-the only point is, whether it is a real one or not; and even on this professional men disagree.

 

This singular creature, which it is reported was brought to Bafavia, in the East Indies, from some of the neighboring islands, is in a state of high preservation, and appears to have been so for many years.  It is nearly round, about this size of that of a child two or three years old-its forehead somewhat depressed, and chin projecting similar to the negro.  Its teeth perfect, and beautifully set in circular rows; but the canine teeth, as they are called, being longer, project much beyond the others.  The cheeks of the face project a little, which together with the eyes, eye-brows, chin, month, tongue, ears, throat, &c. exactly resemble those of the human species.  Its head is somewhat bent forward. 

 

The spinous processes of the cervical and dorsal vertebrae project in that distinct and regular order, down to the lower part of the breast, that we find in human subject; when they gradually lost themselves on entering the natural form of the lower portion of the body of a fish.  The scapula and arms-the latter of which are of great length-hands, thumbs, fingers, and nails, furnish us with an exact representation of those of a delicate female:  the breast bone, clavicles and ribs of the chest are perfectly distinct, and the breasts-which are now of some size, and appear to have been very large-and nipples are a tolerable model of those in the human species.

 

Its body appears to be muscular above the chest, and covered with cuticle and hair, dispersed as in the human skin.

 

The one side of the head is covered with black human hair, about half an inch or an inch in length; but on the other side it appears to have been much worn or rubbed off.

 

When examining this singular phenomenon, what excited astonishment was. the external covering from the chest upwards to be such a near representation of that of a human being, whilst the whole of the body below was enveloped with the scaly covering of a fish.

 

Immediately under the breasts, the fishy form commences, by two large fins on its belly, on which it has been represented by those who have seen it at sea to rest the upper part of its body about water; it then tapers off and terminates in the tail of a fish, not unlike that of a salmon.

 

The engraving we give in our present number is a very correct delineation of the appearance of the mermaid which has been brought from one of the Molucca Islands.  But, positive as some persons are, as to its really being that long-deemed fabulous creature, the Mermaid, we most beg leave to express our doubts-we may say firm conviction-that it is a imposture-certainly not the first that has been practiced on the credulity of honest John Bull.  The fact is, that the lower part is a real fish, of a species found in the rivers of China and Japan, the head and shoulders being cut off and replaced by the bust of a baboon.  We are confirmed in our opinion of its being an imposture by several of our contemporaries, as well as by the opinions of several professional gentlemen.  The Editor of the Literary Gazette, in speaking of it says:  "Our opinion is fixed that it is a composition; a most ingenious one, we grant, but still nothing beyond the admirably put together members of various animals.  The extraordinary skill of the Chinese and Japanese in executing such deceptions is notorious, and we have no doubt but that the Mermaid is a manufacture from the Indian Sea, where it has been pretended it was caught.  We are not of those who, because they happen not to have had direct proof of the existence of any extraordinary natural phenomenon, push skepticism to the extreme and deny its possibility.  The depths of the sea, in all probability.  The depths of the sea, in all from various chemical and philosophical causes, contain animals unknown to its surface waters, or if ever, rarely seen by human eye.  But when a creature is presented to us, having no other organization but that which is suitable to a medium always open to our observation, it in the first instance excites suspicion that only one individual of the species should be discovered and obtained.  When knowledge was more limited, the stories of Mermaids seen in distant quarters might be credited by the many and not entirely disbelieved by the few; but now, when European, and especially British, commerce fills every corner of the earth with men of observation and science, the unique becomes the incredible, and we receive with far greater doubt the apparition of such anomalies as the present.  It is curious that though medical men seem in general to regard this creature as a possible production of nature, no naturalist of any ability credits it after five minutes observation!  This may perhaps be accounted for by their acquaintance with the parts of distinct animals, of which, it appears, the Mermaid is composed.  The cheeks of the blue-faced ape, the canine teeth, the simia upper body, and the tail of the fish, are all familiar to them in less complex combinations, and they pronounce at once that the whole is an imposture.  And such is our settled conviction."

 

A monthly journal, after giving a long account of Mermaids, and referring to an engraving of the one now exhibiting in London, which were are told, appears in the number, has withdrawn the plate in consequence of a subsequent conviction of the imposture.  It is, however, a very ingenious imposture, and therefore is worth seeing on that account.

 

But while we doubt the reality of this disgusting looking Mermaid (as it is called) now exhibiting, we are compelled to acknowledge that there is a host of evidence in favor of the existence of such a creature, both in ancient and modern times.  Pliny says, that "the Ambassadors to Augustus from Gaul declared that sea-women were often seen in their neighborhood."  Solimus and Aulus Gellius also speak of their existence.

 

It is related in the Histoire d' Angleierre, part I, page 403, that in the year 1187, a Merman was "fished up" in the county of Suffolk, and kept by the governor for six months; it was exactly like a man in every respect, and wanted nothing but speech.  He never could be brought to any understanding of his nature of situation, and at length made his escape, and was seen to plunge into the sea, from whence he returned no more.

 

In 1430, in the great tempests which destroyed the dykes in Holland, some women at Edam, in West-Freezeland, by the waters into the meadows which were overflowed.  They took it, and (as it is said,) dressed it in female attire, and thought it to spin, it fed on cooked meat, but all efforts to teach it to speak proved ineffectual, though Parival says,  "it had some notion of a deity, and made its reverences very devoutly when it passed a crucifix."  It was taken to Haerlem, where it lived some years, but it ever retained an inclination for the water.  At its death it was allowed Christian burial.

 

In 1800, on the coast of Ceylon, some fishermen caught, at one draught of their nets, seven Merman and Mermaids-they were dissected and found made exactly like human beings.  For a full account of this last circumstance, see the Histoire de la Compagule de Jesus, part 2d. t. 4 No. 276.

 

In 1531, a Merman, caught in the Bidtie, was sent to Sigismund, king of Poland, with whom, says the account, he lived three days, and was seen by the whole court; but whether he died or escaped at the end of that period, we cannot say.  But in some tracts published by John Gregory, A.M. and chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1650, this Identical Merman is described. "as a huge animal of the human from, but very much resembling a bishop in his pontilenis."  A German engraving of this being I have seen, it is extremely curious.

 

Georgius Trapansantius declares that he himself saw a Mermaid, extremely beautiful, rise many times above water; he adds, that in Epirus, a Merman came on the shore, and watched near a spring of water, endeavoring to catch young women that come there; he was caught, but could not be made to eat.

 

Mailley, In his Teliamiede, peaks of a Merman which was seen by the whole of a French ship's crew, off New Foundland, in 1725,

 

Such are the accounts given by different writers at various periods relative to the Mermaid. In our next we shall give similar evidence of more recent times, reserving for ourselves what we wish all our readers to do, the right to exercise their own private judgment as to its fallacy or truth.

 

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