Garcao, Pedro Antonio Joaquim Correa
GARCAO, PEDRO ANTONIO JOAQUIM CORREA (1724-1772), Portuguese lyric poet, was the son of Philippe Corrêa da Serra, a fidalgo of the royal house who held an important post in the foreign office; his mother was of French descent. The poet's health was frail, and after going through a Jesuit school in Lisbon and learning English, French and Italian at home, he proceeded in 1742 to the university of Coimbra with a view to a legal career. He took his degree in 1748, and two years later was created a knight of the Order of Christ. In 1751 his marriage with D. Maria Salema brought him a rich dower which enabled him to live in ease and cultivate letters; but in later years a law-suit reduced him to poverty. From 1760 to 1762 he edited the Lisbon Gazette. In 1756, in conjunction with Cruz e Silva and others, Garção founded the Arcadia Lusitana to reform the prevailing bad taste in literature, identified with Seicentismo, which delighted in conceits, windy words and rhetorical phrases. The Arcadia fulfilled its mission to some extent, but it lacked creative power, became dogmatic, and ultimately died of inanition. Garção was the chief contributor to its proceedings, bearing the name of "Corydon Erimantheo," and his orations and dissertations, with many of his lyrics, were pronounced and read at its meetings. He lived much in the society of the English residents in Lisbon, and he is supposed to have conceived a passion for an English married lady which completely absorbed him and contributed to his ruin. In the midst of his literary activity and growing fame, he was arrested on the night of the 9th of April 1771, and committed to prison by Pombal, whose displeasure he had incurred by his independence of character. The immediate cause of his incarceration would appear to have been his connexion with a love intrigue between a young friend of his and the daughter of a Colonel Elsden, but he was never brought to trial, and the matter must remain in doubt. After much solicitation, his wife obtained from the king an order for her husband's release on the 10th of November 1772, but it came too late. Broken by infirmities and the hardships of prison life, Garção expired that very day in the Limoeiro, at the age of forty-seven.
Taking Horace as his model, and aided by sound judgment, scholarship and wide reading, Garção set out to raise and purify the standard of poetical taste, and his verses are characterized by a classical simplicity of form and expression. His sonnets ad sodales show a charming personality; his vigorous and elegant odes and epistles are sententious in tone and reveal an inspired poet and a man chastened by suffering. His two comedies in hendecasyllables, the Theatro Novo (played in January 1766) and the Assemblêa, are excellent satires on the social life of the capital; and in the Cantata de Dido, included in the latter piece, the spirit of Greek art is allied to perfection of form, making this composition perhaps the gem of Portuguese 18th century poetry.
Garção wrote little and spent much time on the labor limae. His works were published posthumously in 1778, and the most complete and accessible edition is that of J.A. de Azevedo Castro (Rome, 1888). An English version of the Cantata de Dido appeared in the Academy (January 19th, 1895). See Innocencio da Silva, Diccionario bibliographico Portuguez, vol. vi. pp. 386-393, and vol. xvii. pp. 182-184; also Dr Theophilo Braga, A Arcadia Lusitana (Oporto, 1899).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)