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Mermaids And Mermen


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

It is said that these fabulous beings frequented the sea-coasts of Wales
to the great danger of the inhabitants. The description of the Welsh
mermaid was just as it is all over the world; she is depicted as being
above the waist a most lovely young woman, whilst below she is like a
fish with fins and spreading tail. Both mermen and mermaids were fond,
it is said, of combing their long hair, and the siren-like song of the
latter was thought to be so seductive as to entice men to destruction.
It was believed that beautiful mermaids fell in love with comely young
men and even induced them to enter their abodes in the depth of the sea.

I heard the following tale, I believe in Carnarvonshire, but I have no
notes of it, and write from memory.

A man captured a mermaid, and took her home to his house, but she did
nothing but beg and beg to be allowed to return to the sea, but
notwithstanding her entreaties her captor kept her safe enough in a room,
and fastened the door so that she could not escape. She lingered several
days, pitifully beseeching the man to release her, and then she died.
But ever after that event a curse seemed to rest upon the man, for he
went from bad to worse, and died miserably poor.

It was always considered most unlucky to do anything unkind to these
beings. Fear acted as a powerful incentive, in days of old, to generous
conduct. For it was formerly believed that vengeance ever overtook the

An Isle of Man legend, related by Waldron, in his account of the Isle of
Man, and reproduced by Croker, vol. i., p. 56, states, that some persons
captured a mermaid, and carried her to a house and treated her tenderly,
but she refused meat and drink, neither would she speak, when addressed,
though they knew these creatures could speak. Seeing that she began to
look ill, and fearing some great calamity would befall the island if she
died, they opened the door, after three days, and she glided swiftly to
the sea side. Her keeper followed at a distance and saw her plunge into
the sea, where she was met by a great number of her own species, one of
whom asked her what she had seen among those on land, to which she
answered, Nothing, but that they are so ignorant as to throw away the
very water they boil their eggs in.

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