1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Trapp

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain (1832-34) 3:517.



JOSEPH TRAPP, the son of a clergyman, was born in Gloucestershire, in November, 1679, and educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A., in 1699; M.A., in 1702; and, in 1704, was elected a fellow. Having, previously to this time, distinguished himself by several small poems of merit, he was, in 1708, appointed to the first Birkhead professorship of poetry, and held that situation for ten years. In 1709, and in the following year, he acted as manager for Dr. Sacheverell on his famous trial; and, in 1711, he was appointed chaplain to Sir Constantine Phipps, lord-chancellor of Ireland. In 1715, he printed the first volume of his Preservative against Unsettled Notions, of which a second volume was printed in 1722; and in the interval, in 1717, appeared his Controversial Sermon against Bishop Hoadly; his famous translation of Virgil, in blank verse, in two octavo volumes; and, in 1718, his Praelectiones Poeticae, in three volumes, octavo. In 1720, through the interest of the Earl of Peterborough, he was preferred to the rectory of Dauntzey, in Wiltshire, which, in the following year, he resigned for the united parishes of Christchurch, Newgate Street, and St. Leonard's, Foster Lane, London. In 1727, appeared his Popery truly Stated and Confuted; and his celebrated Answer to England's Conversion; of which the University of Oxford marked their approval by conferring upon him the degree of D.D. These were followed by his Sermons on Righteousness overmuch, which gave rise to a paper from the pen of Dr. Johnson, printed in The Gentleman's Magazine for 1787, on the subject of literary property, in consequence of Trapp having refused Mr. Cave permission to give an abridgment of the above sermons in his periodical. In 1733, he became rector of Harlington, in Middlesex, on the presentation of the famous Lord Bolingbroke, who had previously appointed him his chaplain, as a recompense for some papers he had written in The Examiner, in defence of that nobleman's administration. In 1734, he was elected a joint lecturer of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields; and, in 1740, appeared, in two volumes, his Miltoni Paradisus Amissus, a Latin translation of Milton's Paradise Lost. In 1747, he published three Sermons, with explanatory notes on the four Gospels prefixed; and died on the 22nd of November, in the same year. He had married, in 1712, a daughter of Alderman White, of Oxford, and was survived by one son. Trapp, who, in the early part of his life, is said to have been dissipated, was a man of hasty temper, but self command; possessed wit and discernment; and, according to Bishop Pearce, studied harder than any man in England. Besides the works already mentioned, he published a tragedy called Abramule, some miscellaneous poems in English and Latin, and a variety of sermons and pieces on devotional subjects. Trapp's translation of Virgil, on which his fame principally rests, is an indifferent performance, and not wholly undeserving of the following sarcastic couplet, written by a witty contemporary on the first appearance of Glover's Leonidas:—

Equal to Virgil? It may, perhaps;
But then, by heaven! 'tis Dr. Trapp's.