From the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 21st September 1843.
[...] But there is now exhibiting in London, a mermaid, which, though it pretend to no notions of a Deity itself, was regarded as one by some natives of South America, who caught it in the Rio de la Plata, and prepared it after a rude manner for preservation. From them it was purchased, the exhibitor states, by two travellers for the British Museum, the authorities of which have given him special permission to show it for a time.*
The same authority gives the following description of this "mermaid or siren of the sea," as it is designated: --
"The features are both pleasing and interesting; its abundance of hair is extraordinary, but coarse as bristles; its teeth are of a snowy whiteness, without any grinders, with cartilaginous gums, tongue, and roof to the mouth. The two arms, which are short, terminate with short webbed fingers, each having the appearance of a nail at the end. The bust is perfectly that of a woman. The back is nearly covered with fins, and to support its body when sitting up in the water, it has four fins, placed in opposite directions, in front of the body."
An inspection will certainly confirm this statement; and, as naturalists have not condescended to define what a mermaid is under its proper class - mammalia -- we may venture, perhaps, to pronounce this to be as good a one as ever was seen. After being submitted to the view of the Queen and Prince Albert, this "siren of the sea" is to be present at Birmingham during the approaching music festival - a fearful rival to each biped songstress there, who, in competition with this fishwoman, or womanfish, will find herself vox, et preterea nihil.
[F.F. notes: * somehow I doubt this but it's good advertising.]