Joseph Trapp

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Portrait of Joseph Trapp by unknown artist (early 18th century) Joseph Trapp unknown artist Bodleian Library.jpg
Portrait of Joseph Trapp by unknown artist (early 18th century)

Joseph Trapp (1679–1747) was an English clergyman, academic, poet and pamphleteer. His production as a younger man of occasional verse (some anonymous, or in Latin) and dramas led to his appointment as the first Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1708. Later his High Church opinions established him in preferment and position. As a poet, he was not well thought of by contemporaries, with Jonathan Swift refusing a dinner in an unavailing attempt to avoid revising one of Trapp’s poems, and Abel Evans making an epigram on his blank verse translation of the Aeneid with a reminder of the commandment against murder. [1] [2]

The Professor of Poetry is an academic appointment at the University of Oxford. The chair was created in 1708 by an endowment from the estate of Henry Birkhead. The professorship carries an obligation to lecture, but is in effect a part-time position, requiring only three lectures each year. In addition, every second year, the professor delivers the Creweian Oration, which offers formal thanks to benefactors of the university. Until 1968 this oration was delivered in Latin.

Jonathan Swift 17th/18th-century Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

Abel Evans (1675–1737) was an English clergyman, academic, and poet, a self-conscious follower of John Milton.


Early life

He was born at Cherrington, Gloucestershire, in November 1679, and baptised there on 18 December 1679, was the second son of Joseph Trapp (1638–1698), rector of Cherrington from 1662, and grandson of John Trapp. After a training at home by his father and some time at New College School, he matriculated at Wadham College, Oxford, on 11 July 1695. He was elected Goodridge exhibitioner in 1695 and in subsequent years to 1700, and scholar in 1696. He graduated B. A. 22 April 1699, and M.A. 19 May 1702, and either in 1703 or 1704 he became a fellow of his college. [1]

Cherrington village in United Kingdom

Cherrington is a village in Shropshire, England, in the civil parish of Tibberton and Cherrington. It was recorded as a manor in Domesday, when it was held by Gerard de Tournai, and was stated to have been held by a man named Uliet in the time of Edward the Confessor, although it was recorded as "waste", in an uncultivated state, by the time Gerard took possession of it.

Gloucestershire County of England

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John Trapp English theologian

John Trapp, was an English Anglican Bible commentator. His large five-volume commentary is still read today and is known for its pithy statements and quotable prose. His volumes are quoted frequently by other religious writers, including Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), Ruth Graham, the daughter of Ruth Bell Graham, said that John Trapp, along with C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, was one of her mother's three favorite sources for quotations.

Early in his academic career Trapp began to versify for Oxford collections; and he wrote poetical paraphrases and translations which are included in the Miscellanies of John Dryden and Elijah Fenton. His play of Abramule [3] brought him some reputation. He became the first professor of poetry at Oxford, a position which he held from 14 July 1708 to 1718. His lectures were delivered in Latin and showed originality, for example on ut pictura poesis ; [4] but he was thought to have fawned too much on William Lancaster the vice-chancellor. [1] [5]

John Dryden 17th-century English poet and playwright

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made England's first Poet Laureate in 1668.

Elijah Fenton was an English poet, biographer and translator.

<i>Ut pictura poesis</i>

Ut pictura poesis is a Latin phrase literally meaning "as is painting so is poetry". The statement occurs most famously in Horace's "Ars Poetica", near the end, immediately after another famous quotation, "bonus dormitat Homerus", or "even Homer nods" :

Poetry resembles painting. Some works will captivate you when you stand very close to them and others if you are at a greater distance. This one prefers a darker vantage point, that one wants to be seen in the light since it feels no terror before the penetrating judgment of the critic. This pleases only once, that will give pleasure even if we go back to it ten times over.

High Church man

Trapp at the same period plunged into politics as a Tory and a high churchman. He assisted Henry Sacheverell at his trial in 1709 and 1710, and on Sacheverell's recommendation became in April 1710 his successor in the lectureship at Newington, Surrey. The preface to a tract [6] on the trial was written by him, and in September 1710 he vindicated Sacheverell's noisy progress into exile in an anonymous pamphlet. [7] Another anonymous pamphlet by Trapp was called The true genuine Tory Address and the true genuine Whig Address set one against another, 1710. [1]

Henry Sacheverell English politician

Henry Sacheverell was an English high church Anglican clergyman who achieved nationwide fame in 1709 after preaching an incendiary 5 November sermon. He was subsequently impeached by the House of Commons and though he was found guilty, his light punishment was seen as a vindication and he became a popular figure in the country, contributing to the Tories' landslide victory at the general election of 1710.

In January 1711 Sir Constantine Phipps, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, took on Trapp as his chaplain, and Trapp wrote partisan political pieces, incurring scorn from Swift. He married in 1712 a daughter of Alderman White of St. Mary's, Oxford, and resigned as a Fellow of Wadham. That year he was chaplain to Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, a place Swift claimed he had arranged. On 1 April 1713 Swift would not dine with Bolingbroke because he was expected to 'look over a dull poem' of Trapp's; afterwards he did correct the poem, printed anonymously at Dublin, as Peace, a Poem. It was set to music by William Croft. [1] [8]

Constantine Phipps (Lord Chancellor of Ireland) Lord Chancellor of Ireland

Sir Constantine Henry Phipps (1656–1723) was an English-born lawyer who held the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. His term of office was marked by bitter political faction-fighting and he faced repeated calls for his removal. His descendants held the titles Earl of Mulgrave and Marquess of Normanby. Sir William Phips, the Governor of Massachusetts 1692-94, was his cousin.

The office of Lord High Chancellor of Ireland was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801, it was also the highest political office of the Irish Parliament: the Chancellor was Speaker of the Irish House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor was also Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland. In all three respects, the office mirrored the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke 17th/18th-century English politician and Viscount

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke was an English politician, government official and political philosopher. He was a leader of the Tories, and supported the Church of England politically despite his antireligious views and opposition to theology. He supported the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 which sought to overthrow the new king George I. Escaping to France he became foreign minister for the Pretender. He was attainted for treason, but reversed course and was allowed to return to England in 1723. According to Ruth Mack, "Bolingbroke is best known for his party politics, including the ideological history he disseminated in The Craftsman (1726–35) by adopting the formerly Whig theory of the Ancient Constitution and giving it new life as an anti-Walpole Tory principle."

From 1714 to 1722 he held by the gift of the Earl of Peterborough the rectory of Dauntsey in Wiltshire, and through the interest of William Lancaster he obtained in 1715 the lectureship at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. The governors of St. Bartholomew's Hospital elected Trapp on 20 April 1722 as vicar of the united parishes of Christ Church, Newgate Street, and St. Leonard, Foster Lane, and in 1733 he was presented by Lord Bolingbroke to the rectory of Harlington in Middlesex. [9] He also held lectureships in several London churches, and became president of Sion College. He died of pleurisy at Harlington on 22 November 1747. and was buried on the north side of the entrance into the chancel, upon the north wall of which is a monument; another, the cost of which was borne by the parishioners, is on the east wall of the chancel of Newgate church. The books in Trapp's library at Warwick Lane, London, to which Sacheverell's library had been added, and those at Harlington, with his son's collections, passed to Robert Palk. [1]

Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough British diplomat

Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough and 1st Earl of Monmouth, was an English nobleman and military leader. He was the son of John Mordaunt, 1st Viscount Mordaunt, and his wife Elizabeth, the daughter and sole heiress of Thomas Carey, the second son of Robert Carey, 1st Earl of Monmouth. Mordaunt's father, John Mordaunt, was created Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon and Baron Mordaunt of Reigate, Surrey, in 1659.

Dauntsey village in the United Kingdom

Dauntsey is a small village and civil parish in the county of Wiltshire, England. It gives its name to the Dauntsey Vale in which it lies and takes its name from Saxon for Dantes- eig, or Dante's island. It is set on slightly higher ground in the flood plain of the upper Bristol Avon.

Wiltshire County of England

Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county town was originally Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge.


Real Nature of Church and Kingdom of Christ, 1717, was a reply to Benjamin Hoadly in the Bangorian Controversy. It was answered by Gilbert Burnet, second son of Bishop Burnet, and by several other writers. [1]

In the space of a few weeks in 1726 several Londoners became Catholic converts, and Trapp published a treatise of Popery truly stated and briefly confuted, in three parts, which reached a third edition in 1745. In 1727 he renewed the attack in The Church of England defended against the Church of Rome, in Answer to a late Sophistical and Insolent Popish Book. As a compliment for these labours he was created by the university of Oxford Doctor of Divinity by diploma on 1 February 1728. [1]

George Whitefield went to Christ Church, Newgate Street, on 29 April 1739, and heard Trapp preach against him one of four discourses on the nature, folly, sin, and danger of being righteous overmuch; they were printed in 1739. Answers to them were published by Whitefield, William Law, Robert Seagrave, and others, and an anonymous reply bore the sarcastic title of Dr. Trapp vindicated from the Imputation of being a Christian. He retorted with The True Spirit of the Methodists and their Allies: in Answer to six out of the seven Pamphlets against Dr Trapp's Sermons (anon.), 1740. [1]


Of his translation into blank verse of Virgil, the first volume of the Aeneis came out in 1718, the second in 1720, and the translation of the complete works with notes, was published in three volumes in 1731 and 1735. [1] His Johannis Miltoni Paradisus Amissus Latine redditus (vol. i. 1741, vol. ii. 1744) was a Latin translation of John Milton's Paradise Lost , printed at his own cost, and he lost heavily on it. [1] A modern critical view sees a definite intention in the translation of Virgil into Miltonic blank verse, followed by the translation of Milton into Virgilian hexameters, namely to place Milton as the English Virgil. [10]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 s:Trapp, Joseph (DNB00)
  3. Abramule: or Love and Empire. A Tragedy acted at the New Theatre in Little Lincoln's Inn Fields (printed without his name in 1704, and often reissued.
  5. The first volume of these Praelectiones Poeticae came out in 1711, the second in 1715, and the third edition is dated 1736. An English translation by the Rev. William Clarke of Buxted and William Bowyer was published 'with additional notes' in 1742.
  6. A Letter out of the Country to the Author of the Managers Pro and Con
  7. An Ordinary Journey no Progress
  10. David Fairer, Creating a National Poetry: the tradition of Spenser and Milton, in John E. Sitter (editor), The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-century Poetry (2001), p. 184.

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Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

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