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I don't see any kind of year or model information, what are you working on?
All Mercurys are cataloged by serial number, do you happen to have that number handy? If not, is this just a basic twin cylinder single carb 2 stroke model?
Pull the key switch out and disconnect the black with a yellow stripe wire and let me know if it starts or does the same thing. If it does start, make sure you have water hooked up to the engine because you won't be able to shut it off until you reconnect that black/yellow wire. Also, there will be voltage on it so don't touch any bare wire.
What is the history on this engine, when did it last start and run correctly? How old is the fuel itself?
Do you have any starting fluid so we can see if the engine will stay running longer on that?
This is going to be a process of elimination. The compression and spark output need to be tested with a compression gauge and a timing light. Is that something you can do?
We need to see what the engine has for compression, and then see if it's output spark on both cylinders or not. This will get us pointed in the right direction. The starter is not the issue, the engine can be rope started if necessary (and if it was running correctly). Let me know how you make out with the compression and spark testing.
Sounds good, let me know how you make out.