16 MARCH 1833, Page 16


THE trade of torturing animals is old enough; the only novelty is supplied by varying the victims ; and in proportion as these di- minish in size, the amount of torment inflicted increases. To one dancing-bear succeed tribes of dancing-dogs and riding-monkeys; and a solitary learned pig is supplanted by a host of industrious fleas. "Industrious" is a very pretty term, by the way, to apply to the struggles of a wretched little creature to escape from pain. The squirrel in a whirling cage is very industrious, and the cock- chafer spinning on the per which transfixes it is still more in- dustrious. There may be some excuse for teaching an elephant to perform tricks, because it exhibits the sagacity and docility of-the animal; the patient perseverance of the tormentor, also, may be considered by some to be a set-off against the cruelty of tor- turing animals which have no sagacity ; butin the case of the fleas, there is neither docility on the part of the tormented nor ingenuity on the part of the tormentor. The only process of "training " the flea to drag any load fastened to it, is that of putting it into a tiny tread-mill, where, if it indulges its natural agility, it knocks its head against a bit of wood, and so it learns to be content with a less lively movement. Now; M. BERTOLOTTO, the flea-trainer, is in the habit of walking when he moves; but only let us put on one of his feet a shoe with a few spikes inside the sole, and set him in-a place where he must perforce keep moving, and lie would be astonished at the proficiency be would soon acquire in hopping. • The only ingenious part of this exhibition is the delicacy of the construction of the chains with which the fleas are confined, round the body or the leg. All the rest is childish. For instance, on the top of a musical box, is a representation of an orchestra, with a dozen of fleas fastened in it, to each of which is tied a paper sem- blance of some musical instrument; two couple of fleas yoked to- gether are placed on a bit of paper; the box is made to play, and the efforts of the insects to get away are called " playing " and " deriding." On another stand is placed a tower, with toy cannon; and a couple of fleas chained, with paper figures stuck on their backs, crawl round, while two others, fastened to a fine wire, to which alighted taper is attached, move it across the touch-boles of the little cannon and so let them off; and this is named " the siege of Antwerp." This absurdity is exhibited in a decent first- floor in Regent Street ; and is patronized by the Princess Au- Gums and the nobility and gentry ! M. BERTOLOTTO is careful to inform us that lie " has no connexion whatever with a man who travels about the country, exhibiting a pretended fac-shnile of part of his exhibition." These, we suppose, are aristocratic fleas : who knows but they are indulged with a suck of the bleed royal ?