Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete

Author: Various

Chapter XLIV.

Mexica.—Philippa.—Molina.—The Queen’s Jester.

In marrying Maria Theresa, Infanta of Spain, the King had made an advantageous match from a political point of view. For through the Infanta he had rights with regard to Flanders; she also provided him with eventual claims upon Spain itself, together with Mexico and Peru. But from a personal and social point of view, the King could not have contracted a more miserable alliance. The Infanta, almost wholly uneducated, had not even such intellectual resources as a position such as hers certainly required, where personal risk was perpetual, where authority had to be maintained by charming manners, and respect for power ensured by elevation of tone and sentiment, which checks the indiscreet, and imbues everybody with the spirit of consideration and reverence.

Maria Theresa, though a king’s daughter, made no more effect at Court than if she had been a mere middle-class person. The King, in fact, by his considerateness, splendour, and glory, served to support her dignity. He hoped and even desired that she should be held in honour, partly for her own sake, in a great measure for his. But as soon as she started upon some argument or narration where force of intellect was needed, she always seemed bewildered, and he soon interrupted her either by finishing the tale himself, or by changing the conversation. This he did goodnaturedly and with much tact, so that the Queen, instead of taking offence, was pleased to be under such an obligation to him. From such a wife this prince could not look to have sons of remarkable talent or intellect, for that would have been nothing short of a miracle. And thus the little Dauphin showed none of those signs of intelligence which the most ordinary commonplace children usually display. When the Queen heard courtiers repeat some of the droll, witty sayings of the Comte de Vegin, or the Duc du Maine, she reddened with jealousy, and remarked, "Everybody goes into ecstasies about those children, while Monsieur le Dauphin is never even mentioned."

She had brought with her from Spain that Donna Silvia Molina, of whom I have already spoken, and who had got complete control over her character. Instead of tranquillising her, and so making her happy, Donna Silvia thought to become more entertaining, and above all, more necessary to her, by gossiping to her about the King’s amours. She ferreted out all the secret details, all the petty circumstances, and with such dangerous material troubled the mind and destroyed the repose of her mistress, who wept unceasingly, and became visibly changed.

La Molina, enriched and almost wealthy, was sent back to Spain, much to the grief of Maria Theresa, who for several days after her departure could neither eat nor sleep.

At the same time, the King got rid of that little she-dwarf, named Mexica, in whose insufferable talk and insufferable presence the Queen took delight. But the sly little wretch escaped during the journey, and managed to get back to the princess again, hidden in some box or basket. The Queen was highly delighted to see her again; she pampered her secretly in her private cabinet with the utmost mystery, giving up every moment that she could spare.

One day, by way of a short cut, the King was passing through the Queen’s closet, when he heard the sound of coughing in one of the cupboards. Turning back, he flung it open, where, huddled up in great confusion, he found Mexica.

"What!" cried his Majesty; "so you are back again? When and how did you come?"

In a feeble voice Mexica answered, "Sire, please don’t send me away from the Queen any more, and she will never complain again about Madame de Montespan."

The King laughed at this speech, and then came and repeated it to me. I laughed heartily, too, and such a treaty of peace seemed to contain queer compensation clauses: Madame de Montespan and Mexica were mutually bound over to support each other; the spectacle was vastly droll, I vow.

Besides her little dwarf, the Queen had a fool named Tricominy. This quaint person was permitted to utter everywhere and to everybody in incoherent fashion the pseudo home-truths that passed through his head. One day he went up to the grande Mademoiselle de Montpensier, and said to her before everybody, "Since you are so anxious to get married, marry me; then that will be a man-fool and a woman-fool." The Princess tried to hit him, and he took refuge behind the Queen’s chair.

Another time, to M. Letellier, Louvois’s brother and Archbishop of Rheims, he said, "Monseigneur, do let me ascend the pulpit in your Cathedral, and I will preach modesty and humanity to you." When the little Duc d’Anjou, that pretty, charming child, died of suppressed measles, the Queen was inconsolable, and the King, good father that he is, was weeping for the little fellow, for he promised much. Says Tricominy, "They’re weeping just as if princes had not got to die like anybody else. M. d’Anjou was no better made than I am, nor of better stuff."

Tricominy was dismissed, because it was plain that his madness took a somewhat eccentric turn; that, in fact, he was not fool enough for his place.

The Queen had still a Spanish girl named Philippa, to whom she was much attached, and who deserved such flattering attachment. Born in the Escurial Palace, Philippa had been found one night in a pretty cradle at the base of one of the pillars. The palace guards informed King Philip, who adopted the child and brought it up, since it had been foisted upon him as his daughter. He grew fond of the girl, and on coming to Saint Jean de Luz to marry the Infanta to his nephew the King, he made them a present of Philippa, and begged them both to be very good to her. In this amiable Spanish girl, the Infanta recognised a sister. She knew she was an illegitimate daughter of King Philip and one of the palace ladies.

When Molina left the Court, she did everything on earth to induce Philippa to return with her to Spain, but the girl was sincerely attached to the Queen, who, holding her in a long embrace, promised to find her a wealthy husband if she would stay. However, the Queen only gave her as husband the Chevalier de Huze, her cloak-bearer, so as to keep the girl about her person and to be intimate with her daily. Philippa played the mandolin and the guitar to perfection; she, also sang and danced with consummate grace.


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Chicago: Various, "Chapter XLIV.," Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853 and trans. Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809 in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022,

MLA: Various. "Chapter XLIV." Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, edited by Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853, and translated by Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809, in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Various, 'Chapter XLIV.' in Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from