Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Sala, Monck, Bertolotto and loss of the Industrious Fleas

In my previous blog entry I mentioned that I had found a reference to the Industrious Fleas in a book by George Augustus Sala and wonder if it was connected to my research into L.Bertolotto. A trip to the Westminster Archives proved fruitful and after a little light reading I found the relevant section of the second volume and was both glad to see this strong connection between the world of the Flea Circus and the genealogical research linking Bertolotto in London and Canada. Sala mentions that Governor Monck's butler was the owner of the Industrious Fleas. However there is also a sad story to tell as Sala describes the destruction of the fleas in a fire.

Life and Adventures of George Augustus Sala written by himself
In Two Volumes
Vol II
Third Edition
Cassell and Company, Ltd 1895
Page 45

Across the Atlantic
"It was not until the summer of 1864 that I visited Quebec. Travelling, in the first instance, by steamer on the beautiful St. Laurence, and by the Thousand Islands, the romantic, old-fashioned aspect of the ancient capital of Lower Canada pleased me hugely. Quebec was then the residence of a Governor-General of Canada, Viscount Monck, and we were hospitably entertained at his Excellency's summer quarters near Quebec. I specially remember these viceregal dinners, for two very different reasons. Lord Monck's butler had been the proprietor of the original Industrious Fleas; and his talented troupe, includig the flea that drew the cannon, the flea that rode in the sedan-chair, and the flea that impersonated Napoleon Bonaparte's charger Marengo, had all been burnt - poor little insects! - in a terrible fire at the Governor's country seat."

The Governor and his family

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