Saturday 13 June 2009

story of a mermaid from 1700's

Something enetertaining for a Saturday afternoon.

This broadside story begins: 'A strange and wonderful Relation concerning a Mermaid that was seen and spoke with on the Cliff of Cromarry, near Inverness in Scotland, by a young gentleman, a Merchant, named Lauchland Mackintosh, who was tossed on the main Ocean for four Days and Nights. Together with an account of his wonderful Dream, and the strange Conversation he had with the Mermaid, and how he was preserved after his Return to Inverness.' There are no publication details included on this sheet.

Illustrated with two woodcuts depicting nautical images, this broadside tells the story of a young seafarer who entered a fantastical land, after being caught up in a storm at sea. It seems that he met a beautiful young lady who showed him round her castle, which was guarded by five massive serpents. It turns out, however, that this young lady was in fact a mermaid. The delirious nature of the sailor means that his story is blurred between a dream landscape and real life, although he claims that the ring on his finger was a token of affection left to him by the mermaid. Supernatural tales such as this would have appealed to the imagination of the general public.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

See site with original here:




A strange and wonderful Relation concerning the Mermaid that was seen and spoke with on the Cliff of
Cromarry, near Inverness in Scotland, by a young Gentleman, a Merchant, named Lauchland Mac-
kintosh, who was tossed on the main 'Ocean for four Days and Nights, Together with an account of
his wonderful Dream, and the strange Conversation he had with the Mermaid, and how he was preser-
Ved, but died in five Days after his Return to Inverness.

ON the Twenty-fifth of June last, one Mr.
JAMES FORBES, Captain and Command-
er of the Ship call'd the Dolphin, in her pas-
sage for Amsterdam in Holland, was beat back by
a. tempestuous Wind ; but all the Men got safe on
Shore, except a young Gentlemen, a Merchant,
Call'd Lauchland Mackintosh, who was taken very
ill, and f'ast asleep on board of the Ship, was left
to the Almighty's Providence, and to the Mercies
of the Seas and Wind, until at length he awaked
in a great dread, tossing on the main Ocean, and
frighted with dreadful dreams: For the said Lauch-
land Mackintosh dream'd, that he was upon the
top of a high Mountain, whose top, he thought
reached to the Heavens Firmament, or Skies ; and
that there was on the top of the Mountain an ex-
ceeding fine Castle, about the Circumference of a
Mile, and furnished with all Sorts of fine Dia-
monds and precious Stones, and a Well, whose
Water was as sweet as Honey, and white as Milk,
that whosoever drank of that Well should never be
dry again; and all sorts of fine musick very delightful
to hear, so that they would think, as he supposed,
seven Years not so long as a Day in that Place.

After having viewed the Castle round, he obser-
ved to his great Admiration a beautiful young La-
dy, who was guarded by seven Serpents, very fright-
ful to behold. Suppose the young Lady was very
beautifull. yet he wished rather to be a thousand
Miles off than in the fight of those Serpents : And
looking round about, he espy'd (to his great com-
fort) a green Gate, and a Street pav'd with blue
Marble, which open'd at his coming to it, and so
he got away from the Serpents : But coming to
the Top of the Hill did not know how to get
down, it being very high and steep, but he found
a Ladder to his Comfort; it being very slender was
afraid to venture, but at last was obliged to make
Use of it, for one of the Serpents having taken
notice of him, pursued him so very hard, that he
was in great danger, and thought he fell and broke
his right Leg, and that the Serpent fell upon him,
which awakened him in a great fright, and almost
-made him mad.

But by this you most think what great trouble he was
in, awaking alone On the main Ocean, when missing
all the rest of the Ship's Crew, and likewise the
great danger he was in : But to his great Amaze-
ment espied a beautiful young Lady (as he thought)
combing her head.and tossing on the Billows,cloathed
all in Green, (but by Chance he got the first word
of her) with a Smile the comes on board, and in
Latin asked how he did. The young man being
something smart, and a Scholar, replied, Madam, I
am (the better to see you in good Health) in great
hopes trusting you will be a Comfort and Assistance
to me in my low Condition, and so caught hold of
her Comb and green Girdle that was about her
Waist, To which she replied, Sir. you ought not

to rob a young Woman of her Riches, and then
expect a Favour at her Hand ; but if you 1) give me
my Comb and Girdle again, what lies in my Power
I will do for you. . At which Time he had no
Power to keep them from her, but mediately de-
liver'd them up again. She then smiling thanked
him, and told him, If he would meet her against
next Friday, she would set him safe on shore. He
had no Power to deny her, but readily gave his
Consents At which time she gave him a Compass,
and desired him steer South West. He thanked
her, and told her he wanted some News, he said
she would tell him the next Occassion, when he
fulfilled his Promise; but he should find his Father
and Mother much grieved about him; and so jump-
ing into the Sea, she departed out of his sight.

After her Departure the Tempest ceased, and
blew a fair Gale to South West, and he got safe on
the Shore. But when he Came to his Fathers house,
he found every thing as she had told him : For she
told him also concerning his being left on Ship-
board, and how ail the Seamen got safe to Land,
and he found it all true what she had told him, ac-
cording to the Promise she made him. He was still
very much troubled in his mind how to perform.
his Promise; but mind, while he was thus muling,
she appeared to him with a smiling Countenance,'
and (by his Misfortune) she got .the first Word of
him, so that he could not speak one Word, but
was quite dumb, yet he took Notice of what
Words she spoke; and thus she began to sing:

When the white Hart comes to Inverness,
What will befal no Man can guess :
'Tis true King George he rules the Land,
And he hath Men at his Command.

King George he likewise ruleth high.
And he hath many an Enemy;
Yet he will over rule them all,
And make their Pride to have a Fall.

And after these Debates shall cease,
Old England then will be at peace ;
The'll have no Reason to complain,
Trading will flourish once again.

Upon which she departed out of the young man's
fight, taking from him the Compass. She took a
Ring from off her Finger, and put it upon the
young Man's Finger, and said, she expected to
see him once again with more Freedom, but he
never saw her more : Upon which he came to him-
self again, went home, was taken very ill, and
died in five Days after, to the wonderful Admira-
tion of all People who heard and saw the young

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