An Aberystwyth Mermaid February 13, 2012Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern , trackback
***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk, who sent in news of the Zimbabwe mermaids, just over the hill from Aber***
Mermaids are the most despised of all the creatures of the British imagination. Folklorists have only had the decency to write two half decent books on them over the last century. The result is that there are lots of accounts out there that have never been gathered in. This one seemed, at least to Beachcombing, particularly endearing. It appeared in a Welsh newspaper (in Welsh) in the 1820s.
In the month of July, 1826, a farmer from the parish of Llanuwchaiarn, about three miles from Aberystwyth, whose house is within 300 feet of the seashore, descended, the rock, when the sun was shining beautifully upon the sea, and he saw a woman (as he thought) washing herself in the sea within a stone’s throw of him. At first, he modestly turned back ; but after a, moment’s reflection thought that a woman would not go so far out into the sea, as it was flooded at the time, and he was certain that the water was six feet deep in the spot where he saw her standing. After considering the matter, he threw himself down on his face and crept on to the edge of the precipice from which place he had a good view of her for more than half-an-hour, After scrutinizing her himself, he crept back to call his family to see this wonderful sight. After telling them what he had seen, he directed them from the door where to go and to creep near the rock as he had done. Some of them went when they were only half dressed, for it was early in the morning, and they had only just got up from bed. Arriving at the spot, they looked at her for about ten minutes, as the farmer was calling his wife and the younger child. When the wife came on, she did not throw herself down as the others had done, but walked on within sight of the creature; but as soon as the mermaid saw her, she dived into the water, and swam away till she was about the same distance from them as she was when she was first seen. The whole family, husband, wife, children, menservants and maid-servants, altogether twelve in number, ran along the shore for more than half-a-mile, and during most of that time, they saw her in the sea., and sometimes her head and shoulders were upwards out of the water. There was a large stone, more than a yard in height, in the sea, on which she stood when she was first seen. She was standing out of the water from her waist up, and the whole family declared that she was exactly the same as a young woman of about 18 years of age, both in shape and stature. Her hair was short, and of a dark colour; her face rather handsome, her neck and arms were like those of any ordinary woman, her breast blameless and her skin whiter than that of any person they had ever seen before. Her face was towards the shore. She bent herself down frequently, as if taking up water, and then holding her hand before her face for about half-a-minute. When she was thus bending herself, there was to be seen some black thing as if there was a tail turning up behind her. She often made some noise like sneezing, which caused the rock to echo. The farmer who had first seen her, and had had the opportunity of looking at her for some time, said that he had never seen but very few women so handsome in appearance as this mermaid. All the family, the youngest of whom is now eleven years old, are now alive, and we obtained this account, word for word, as it is given here, from them themselves within the last month.
Beach is always on the look out for mermaid accounts: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
Thanks to Wade for correcting a ridiculous error here.
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