Charles Wogan (1698-1754)

WorksCriticismCommentary

Life

[Le Chevalier Wogan; Sir Charles Wogan; ?1698-?1752 ODNB]; served under Henry Oxburgh, who surrendered at Preston, 1715; escaped from Newgate, 1716; served the French crown in Dillon’s Regt., France; served with Ormonde in a diplomatic mission from James Edward [James III], the Old Pretender, to Russia, 1718-19; gained celebrity through his rescue of Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska, the fiancée of James III (the Young Pretender - i.e., Bonny Prince Charlie), from Innsbruck, and attended their marriage in Montefiascone Cathedral, nr. Rome; issued a memoir of the ‘affair’ as Female Fortitude [... &c.] (London 1722);
 
created Papal Baron (i.e., a baron in Ireland by the Pope) after this adventure; involved in Jacobite invasion plan and arranged three frigates to carry James III to England, 1722; granted the rank of colonel in the Spanish army by Philip V, 1723 and acted as the unofficial Jacobite ambassador in Spain; appt. brigadier-gen. [actually Governor] of La Mancha, 1723; sent casks of wine to Jonathan Swift while holding office there, and following the relief of Santa Cruz de Tenerife - where he defeated a force of Moors; received letters in return from Swift commending Irish soldiers in foreign service as demonstrating a ‘valour above that of all nations’; Swift unable to find a British publisher for him; called by Swift ‘a person of too considerable a rank (and now become half a Spaniard) […]a scholar, a man of genius and of honour’;
 
served with Duke of York at Dunkirk, 1746; appt. Governor of Catalonia, with a residence in Barcelona, 1750; d. in La Mancha (Barcelona); his contribution to the Jacobite cause abroad included the drawing up of invasion plans for England, and the provision of arms to supporters in Ireland to prevent the defence of the Hanoverians from there; Wogan is the central character in Justin Huntly MacCarthy’s novel The King Across the Water (1911). ODNB DIB
 

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Works
Female Fortitude, Exemlify'd, in an Impartial Narrative, of the Seizure, Escape and Marriage of the Princess Clementina Sobiesky, as it was particularly set down by Mr. Charles Wogan (formerly one of the Preston prisoners) who was a chief manager in that whole affair. Now published for the entertainment of the curious
(London: printed in the year, 1722), vi, 56pp. [8o., 20 cm.]

Reprint, Cathy Winch, trans., The Rescue of the Princess Clementina (Stuart): A 1719 Adventure of the Irish Brigades (Belfast Hist. & Educ. Soc. 2008), 198pp. [French with English trans. on facing pages]. .

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Criticism
[q.auth.] King Across the Water (1911); J. M. Flood, The Life of Chevalier Charles Wogan: A Soldier of Fortune (1922).

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Commentary
Jonathan Swift (1st Letter to Wogan, 1732): ‘We all agreed that the Writer was a Scholar, a Man of Genius and of Honour. We guessed him to have been born in this Country from some Passages, but not from the Style, which were were suprised to find so correct in an Exile, a Soldier, and a Native of Ireland. The History of yourself, although part of it be employed in your Praise and Importance, we did not dislike, because your Intention was to be wholly unknown, which Circumstance exempts you from an Charge of Vanity. [/...] I cannot but highly esteem those Gentlemen of Ireland, who, with all the disadvantages of being Exiles and Strangers, have been able to distinguish themselves by their Valour and Conduct in so many Parts of Europe, I think above all other Nations, which ought to make the English ashamed of the Reproaches they cast on the Ignorance, the Dulness, and the Want of Courage, in the Irish Natives; those Defects, wherever they happen, arising only from the Poverty and Slavery they suffer from their inhuman Neighbours [and the base corrupt spirit of too many of the Gentry] [...] But the Millions of Oppressions they lye under, the Tyranny of their Landlords, the ridiculous Zeal of their Priests, and the general Misery of the whole Nation, have been enough to damp the best Spirits under the Sun’ (Harold Williams, ed., Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, IV, Oxford 1965, pp.50-54; rep. in Seamus Deane, ed., The Field Day Anthology to Irish Writing, 1991, Vol. 1,, pp.989-90.)

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Jonathan Swift (2nd letter to Wogan, 1735): ‘I have further thanks to give you for your generous present of excellent Spanish wine ... I am told ... when you were informed of my desire ... that you only desired my Works [in return] ... my disorders, with the help of years, make wine absolutely necessary to support me.’ (See Harold Williams, ed., Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, IV, Oxford 1965, pp.468-470; rep. in Deane, op. cit., 1991, pp.992-93, with remarks as infra.)

Benedict Kiely, The Historical Novel’, in Augustine Martin, ed., The Genius of Irish Prose (Dublin & Cork: Mercier Press, 1985): ‘Consider, for instance, A. E. W. Mason’s novel Clementina and how it loses by comparison with the original story of the great adventure of the Chevalier Wogan as told straight by J. M. Flood in The Life of Chevalier Charles Wogan [Talbot 1922]. (Kiely, p.62.)

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J. Ardle McArdle, reviewing Cathy Winch, trans., The Rescue of the Princess Clementina (Stuart): A 1719 Adventure of the Irish Brigades, in Books Ireland (Dec. 2008): ‘At the heart of the book is Wogan's account ot the rescue, with a risk of hanging, drawing and quartering, of Clementina and their flight to Italy, a dangerous journey through thirty-six post stages at any of which they could have been identified and captured. With an inadequate supply of horses, that had to cross over the dangerous Brenner Pass on roads which dated from Roman times and were not broad enough to enable the “modern” carriages to pass each other. In fact there was one near-disaster when the drivers of Wogan's carriage, at the approach of a large German cart driving on the same side of the road close to the mountain, pushed their vehicle to the outside path and caused two wheels to hang over a precipice which dropped to the Adige River more than six hundred feet below. Fortunately, their front wheel hit an old tree trunk below the edge of the precipice and was pushed practically into the middle of the road. Everything seemed to be against them, exhausted horses and the seeming impossibility of finding fresh horses. As soon as they overcame one obstacle a new one sprung up and all the time they were conscious that they were being pursued by the allies of the Court of Vienna and the soldiers of the Hapsburg Emperor who was being blackmailed by King George of England with the threat that, if the Emperor assisted Clementina, he, George, would break all commitments to His Imperial Majesty and make an alliance with his enemy, the King of Spain. Obstacles and setbacks cropped up almost hourly, but in the end the princess was delivered safely to Rome and was married to fames III. Alas, the marriage was not a success and ultimately Clementina retired to a convent.’ (p.289.)

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991) Vol. 1, records: ‘In the spring of 1732 Swift received a green velvet bag from an unknown correspondent in Spain. It included an autobiographical history, a commentary on the psalms, and some Latin poems. ... The letters that Swift spent to Wogan are respectful and friendly and hint at much better relations between protestants and catholics in the 1730s than the traditional view allows.’ See 2 letters of Swift [see Commentary, supra]: Note also the omitted sentence, ‘In these Kingdoms you would be a most unfashionable military Man, among Troops where the least Pretension to Learning, Piety, or common Morals, would endanger the Owner to be cashiered … I cannot but highly esteem [&c.]’ (Quoted in Christopher J. Wheatley, ‘Heroic Palimpsest: Robert Ashton’s The Battle of Aughrim’, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Vol 11, 1996, p.65.)

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Notes
Portrait: Sir Charles Wogan, 1698-175, unknown oil, owned by Aylmer Family of Painstown, Co Kildare; till 1891; now in NGI; see Anne Crookshank, Irish Portraits Exhibition [Ulster Mus. Irish Portait Exhibition] (1965).

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