MERMAIDS                                                I208                                                          MERV

was printed in the lŏth century in French, English and Latin.

Mer'maids, in popular legend, a class of beings, part woman and part fish. They live in the sea, but are often represented as seated on the rocks, — a lovely woman with a human head and body ending in a scaly fish's tail. She has long, beautiful hair, which she combs with one hand, holding the mirror above the waves with the other. They sometimes seem to have exercised a special care of individuals, and often revealed future events. There are stories of their falling in love with men and remaining faithful wives and mothers for a long season, until they found a chance of returning to the sea. There also are tales of their enticing lovers to their ocean homes. The beautiful romance of Undine and the story of Melusine are founded on the ancient belief in mermaids. See Popular Myths of the Middle Ages by Baring-Gould.

Merovingians ( měr'-vĭ»'jĭ-a«z ), the first dynasty of Frankish kings in Gaul. The name was derived from Merwig or Merovech, king of the western Franks, who ruled from 448 to 457. Clovis, the first Christian monarch of the Franks, and Dagobert are the Merwing kings best known in history. The dynasty ended with Childeric III "(742-52), who was deposed by Pepin the Short, who founded the Carlovingi'an dynasty. See History of France by Yonge and T he Franks to the Death of Pepin by Perry.

Mer'rill, Wis., city, county-seat of Lincoln County, is on Wisconsin River, about 145 miles north of Madison. The manufacturing establishments produce planed and sawed lumber, sash, doors, blinds, clapboards, shingles, laths, lumber for interior finish and flooring. It has a court-house, opera-house, high-school and public library. Population 8,689.

Mer'rimac, a river of New Hampshire, formed by the union of the Pemigewasset and Wmnepiseogee at Franklin, New Hampshire. It flows south into Massachusetts, emptying into the Atlantic near Newburyport, Its numerous falls give a great water-power, which has made the manufacturing towns of Nashua and Manchester in New Hampshire and of Lowell and Lawrence in Massachusetts. It is navigable for 18 miles to Haverhill, Mass.

Merrimac, The, originally was a U. S. frigate, sunk and abandoned in Norfolk Navy-Yard and rebuilt as an armored Confederate war-vessel. She was equipped with two seven-inch and two six-inch rifles and six nine-inch smooth-bores. She was renamed Virginia On March 8, 1862, this vessel stood out of Elizabeth River and attacked the fleet of Federal frigates which lay off Newport News. These wooden vessels proved helpless against the ironclad. The Cumberland and Congress were sunk; the Minnesota was driven ashore. Oa the fol-

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lowing day the Merrimac returned to complete the destruction of the Minnesota. She was encountered by a formidable opponent in the Monitor, which was built with a revolving iron turret "like a cheese-box on a raft," offering but a small target to the fire of the Confederate vessel. After an engagement lasting four hours the Merrimac withdrew, her prow injured by an attempt to ram the Monitor. The Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederates when Norfolk was evacuated on May 9-11, 1862. The success of the Merrimac and Monitor was immediately recognized by the world as a proof that the day of wooden navies was gone forever. See Monitor.

Mer^ritt, Wesley, an American soldier, ex-majorgeneral in the United States army, was born at New York, June 16, 1836,and graduated from West Point in i860. Going into service as a second-lieutenant of cavalry, he was promoted to a first-lieutenancy in the infantry in the next year and made a captain in the year following. At the close of the war he held a commission as lieutenant-colonel in the regular army and was a brevet major-general of volunteers. After the close of the Civil War he was promoted in regular order of service through successive grades until he was made major-general (1895). He commanded a cavalry division in the Shenandoah campaign and rendered conspicuous service at Five Forks, Gettysburg, Fisher's Hill. From 1882 to 1887 he was superintendent at West Point. After years of service in Indian campaigns in the west he was assigned in May, 1898, to the command of the forces in the Philippines. Subsequently he commanded the department of the east, with headquarters at Governor's Island, New York. In 1900 he retired from active service with his rank of major-general. Died Dec. 3, 1910 Mersey (mr'z), an important river of England, flowing into the Irish Sea near Liverpool (a. v.). About 17 miles from its mouth it forms an estuary or inlet from two to three miles wide. The river has been made navigable from Liverpool to Manchester by a ship-canal, while a railroad-tunnel connecting Liverpool and Birkenhead passes under it. The country along its banks is very fertile, and by walls along parts of the river that were subject to overflow many thousand acres have been reclaimed The river is 70 miles long.

Merv, an oasis in Turkestan, Russian Central Asia, near the northeastern corner of Persia It is 60 miles long and 40 wide, and crossed by Murghab River, its area being