1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Trapp

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:718-19.



DR. JOSEPH TRAPP, a celebrated divine and poet, was the son of Mr. Joseph Trapp, rector of Cherington, in Gloucestershire, where he was born in 1679. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he was chosen fellow, and took the degree of M.A. May 13, 1702, and was afterwards created D.D. by diploma, Feb. 1, 1727. In 1707 he was appointed to the professorship of poetry founded by Dr. Birkhead, formerly fellow of All-Souls College. He was the first professor, and published his lectures under the title of Praelectiones Poeticae. He has shown there, in very elegant Latin, how perfectly he understood every species of poetry, and how critically and justly he could give directions toward the formation of a poem on the most just and most established rules. He evinced afterwards, by his translation of Virgil, that a man may be able to direct, who cannot execute; that is, may have the critic's judgment, without the poet's animation. While he was employed, however, in this undertaking, he would often rise from bed, strike a light, and commit a number of pages to paper. Surely no part of his work has merit enough to justify his frequent desertion and disturbance of his wife at such unseasonable hours; but it should seem, from this example, that a Pegasus of lead may sometimes be as restless as a Muse of fire. Dr. Trapp was rector of Harlington, in Middlesex, of Christ Church, in Newgate Street, and St. Leonard's, in Foster Lane, London; also lecturer of St. Lawrence-Jewry and St. Martin's in the Fields. His very high-church principles were probably the reason he did not reach a more dignified station. He died November 22, 1747, and left behind him the character of a pathetic and instructive preacher, an excellent scholar, a discerning critic, and a very exemplary liver. He is author of a tragedy, called Abramule; or, Love and Empire. T. 4to. 1704. And in the 12mo edition, 1739, he is declared the author of King Saul. T. 4to. 1703. Several occasional poems were written by him in English; and there is one Latin production of his in the Musae Anglicanae. He also translated Milton's Paradise Lost into Latin verse, but with little success.