Saturday, 9 January 2010


The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies is the unlikely source of an article on 'Old and New Mermaids'. This article appears in Volume XV, which is to say the Journal for January to June of the year 1823. What follows is a passage from that article. Unfortunately the author does not reveal his source for this wonderfully sad story of an Exeter Mermaid.

"The River Ex and its vicinity is indeed remarkable, not only for the appearance of more than one Mermaid, but for that of more remarkable Mermaids than even all the rest of the world. It is not a century since a Mermaid was said to have been seen in the river just mentioned , close to the walls of the city of Exeter....Its humanity extended to the waist bore from the waist downwards a resemblance to a salmon. It had,however, two legs placed below the waist, and absolute novelties in the history of Mermaids. With these legs it left the shore of the river Ex, and ran before its pursuers, screaming with terror, till it was knocked down and killed."

I weep for this mermaid, or was this the tragedy of some poor deformed human? The story is just too desperate but I wish I knew more of its origins. It has a ring of truth about it.

There is a Mermaid Yard in Exeter not far from the old Water Gate. Did ever a creature emerge from the Exe and run screaming with terror to be knocked down and killed there?

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