Theodore Pavlovic - Life, Work, and Legacy: The Complete Story of the Serbian Intellectual

In the depths of Serbian history, Theodore Pavlovic stands as a pillar of intellectual richness and national dedication. His life, intertwined with the strength of character and deep love for his people, tells a story of relentless effort and commitment that guided him through all challenges and obstacles. Born at a time when the Serbian people were seeking their identity, Pavlovic emerged as a prominent member of society, recognized for his exceptional talent and leadership abilities.

Leaving Pest, Illness, and Death of Teodor Pavlović
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Leaving Pest, Illness, and Death of Teodor Pavlović

Soon after the assembly in Karlovci and the proclamation of Vojvodina, an armed conflict erupted between Serbs and Hungarians. The situation in Pest became very critical for the Serbs. The last session of the Matica Srpska was held on August 31, 1848, in Pest. Serbian houses were searched, and a campaign was launched against Pavlović's newspapers.

When Pavlović realized that he was at the mercy of the court, that he could be executed by choice for supporting those who opposed the new Hungarian authority, his newspapers limited themselves to issuing various daily announcements, without the previous rebellious tone. Serbs began to leave Pest, and Pavlović struggled until the end of his stay, doing everything possible to help his people.

In the end, he had no choice but to leave his Serbian people, withdrawing "seeking personal safety, saying goodbye to God." Pavlović had to part with his Serbian people, physically and spiritually, which was impossible without his heart breaking or his spirit faltering.

Suddenly, an unknown woman brought him a valid passport for Vienna, and a friend brought him a note written in Hungarian, warning him not to spend the upcoming night in his apartment as there was great danger. This warning transformed all his previous concerns into fear. He was seized by horror when, at dawn, on the boat en route to Vienna, a Hungarian commission began to inspect all passengers, but fortunately, he went unnoticed as he hid.

However, upon arriving in Vienna, barely recovering from the terror of the events in Pest, a Kossuth agent confiscated all his documents. These were soon returned to him after intervention by the Croatian ban, and he was released. He withdrew to the city itself or its surroundings, broken in spirit and body, deprived of means of livelihood, wandering aimlessly.

With the help of the Serbian consul Jovan Nak, he went to the sea, where he recovered slightly and returned to Banat to his native village of Karlovo, to his brother Jovan. He lost all hope of being accepted again, his only occupation, which had strengthened his spirit and encouraged him to new efforts to secure daily bread, and which meant honor and happiness for him. He fell into final despair, from which neither his mother's care nor the love of his brother and fellow villagers, friends, could free him.

With his final departure from Pest to Vienna, utterly desperate, he realized that there was no perspective or conditions for survival, which deeply shook him, plunging him into severe depression. Although he later saw the saved Serbian people, for whom he had lived, and magnified by principality and patriarchy, in the light of that, he saw himself forgotten and abandoned.

His noble soul was increasingly overwhelmed by worries and despair, gradually leading to such forgetfulness that he forgot all the dearest faces, all the most important questions of Serbian survival in the past, as he saw no way to join them in the future. He remembered everything vaguely, as if through a haze. However, his mental and physical strength deteriorated, and being weak and ill, he longed for his Karlovo, his birthplace.

Under fraternal care in Karlovo and treatment by his friend Dr. Pejičić in Pančevo, he gradually recovered, occasionally even going to the Pančevo casino, where he met with friends. He began writing letters again and, from almost untouchable man, he became kind, gentle, and a sincere friend to all people, as he always was. With great impatience, he awaited and read newspapers. But this refreshment of his soul, as Dr. Pejičić says, was "like the last burst of a dying ember, which was about to go out."

After a while, when his friend had to leave home for several hours due to work, upon his return, he found Teodor sad, dejected, and lonely. His clear look darkened again with concern for his survival and his future, deprived of material means, with old age looming ahead.

Upon regaining consciousness in Pančevo, he saw his elderly mother helpless, his brother in moderate financial condition, and himself weak and sickly, without property, occupation, or any conditions for life.

Dr. Spasoje Grahovac, in his book "Serbian Periodicals in the 19th Century on the Territory of Present-Day Romania," reports news from Karlovo published by the newspaper "Svetovid" that the reformer of Matica Srpska and editor of "Serbian National Gazette" and "Serbian National News," Teodor Pavlović, finds himself in his hometown "in a shattered state of mind at his brother's, where he spends sad days of his life without hope of recovery."

"Our hope," says David Davidović, the secretary of Matica in the obituary, "to see him here again, according to the received news, was diminishing, and it was finally interrupted by the sad news of Teodor Pavlović's passing."

This great Serbian patriot succumbed to great sorrow and fell into complete oblivion, from which only death saved him on August 12, 1854, at half past eleven in the morning in his native Karlovo, in the embrace of his inconsolable old mother and caring brother Jovan. He was buried in the courtyard - more altar, of the Orthodox Church in Karlovo.

Poet Isidor Nikolić Srbogradski lamented the death of the greatest Serbian son of that era in about forty stanzas of poetry.

The most deserving and esteemed Serb in Austria in the 1830s and 1840s was soon forgotten after his death. Immediately after his death, there were problems with raising a tombstone. For the erection of the monument, Matica allocated 1,000 silver forints from the Tekelija fund, which was opposed by the "Presidency of the State Administration Department" on the grounds that this fund had a specific purpose and could not be used for other purposes. It warned: "if this expense is already incurred, those Matica members who approved it will be charged interest along with the funds collected from the date of issuance."

After this incident, Matica showed no interest in raising the monument. Even when Pavlović's best friend, the Pančevo doctor Dr. Konstantin Pejičić, wrote to Matica asking them to publish a book he wrote about Teodor Pavlović's life, so that the proceeds from the book sales and donations could be used to raise a tombstone, Matica replied on September 5, 1857:

"Since it is evident from this letter that Pavlović's brother has taken the cost of printing the same on himself, the society subscribes to this work for now; and later, as far as it finds necessary and appropriate, it will participate in this undertaking."

Only in 1886 (Pavlović died in 1854), at its assembly, Matica decided to recommend:

"The Church Municipality in Karlovo, where Pavlović is buried, to take matters into its own hands. However, since there was already a committee in Karlovo and the church municipality voted 100 forints for the monument, Matica Serbian was satisfied with voting 30 forints (in the Report on the Monument to Teodor Pavlović by Dr. Konstantin Pejičić from 1866, page 13 states that Matica Serbian paid 50 forints - LM's note) for the monument and sent members of the literary department to the Small Feast of 1888 in Karlovo to unveil the monument: Andrija M. Matić and Nikola Joksimović.

The tombstone was erected for Pavlović thirty-four years after his death in the courtyard of the Orthodox Church in Karlovo. At the unveiling of the monument, teacher Ljubomir Lotic, among other things, said:

"This monument is modest, more modest than it would otherwise be, because with what luck was the Serbian people themselves in such modest circumstances. But is that cold stone really a monument? No, not at all! A true monument rises only in the heart."

The speaker was aware that the Serbian people and their cultural predecessors, especially those in Matica Srpska, had not honored Teodor Pavlović as he deserved with that monument. He knew that the monument was erected through contributions on the initiative and efforts of the Pančevo doctor Dr. Konstantin Pejičić and Teodor's brother Jovan. All those present at the unveiling of the monument were aware of this. Therefore, Matica's delegate, Andrija Matić, while extolling Pavlović's merits, could not help but emphasize that despite all his great merits, the Serbian people had forgotten their Tosha Pavlović, forgotten their rare, faithful son, who loved his people throughout his life and taught us to fight for our language and nationality if we wish to remain Serbs.

How could all this happen, at that time while his friends and contemporaries were alive, and while his merits were still fresh and, so to speak, present? It is not unusual for him to be even less remembered after one hundred and forty years since his death.

For such an attitude of Matica, not a single reason was presented, nor did anyone make an effort to find and present it to the public. True, Vasa Stajić saw the reason in Pavlović's attitude towards the choice of the editor for the Letopis, the Pest-based lawyer Simeon Filipović. At the assembly of Matica held on January 8, 1848, when the editor of Letopis was being chosen, Pavlović opposed that choice and demanded that it be recorded in the minutes that he did not vote for Filipović. Soon, there was a great rebellion, and Matica ceased its activities during the summer of 1848, and the publication of Letopis, as well as Pavlović's newspapers, was interrupted, but these "mistakes" of Pavlović were not forgotten.

After the rebellion and the resumption of Matica's work, this small detail from Matica's work was enough reason to forget Pavlović immediately after his death. To make him feel injustice regarding the erection of the monument, and to continue with smaller or larger injustices, without ever presenting the reasons for all that. At one time, Vuk's supporters were against Pavlović, although we have presented his attitude towards the new statute and Vuk, no one wanted to oppose them because it was very risky at that time and it would have been rightly considered a conflict. It remained so for a long time, and until today our science has not specified what Pavlović's mistakes were and how significant they were.

In the obituary to the deceased Teodor Pavlović, David Davidović, the secretary of Matica Srpska, at the solemn assembly of Matica Srpska held on October 24, 1854, announced the death of Teodor Pavlović in a touching manner right at the beginning.

"Is there anyone among you, esteemed gentlemen present, to whom, upon entering here today, the first thought that did not occur was, where is Teodor Pavlović? He is not here. Dear assembly! That man who was always present at these sessions as a member and secretary of Matica Srpska and filled the sessions with his reports. That highly educated, honorable, zealous man and a very good Serb, whom you all still expect today; at this dear assembly, he is not here, nor will he be - alas, our sorrow - ever again.

Honored by the trust of Matica to outline Teodor Pavlović's life in basic terms, I ask for your patience to listen to me. He is worthy of honor, that man who loved his people so much during his life and deserved to have this high assembly say "Farewell with God" to him. - To say to the one who was the pride, glory, and defender of his people for his whole life..."

Realizing it as a sin of Matica, regarding the tombstone, Davidović used it at the end of the obituary to highlight:

"His grave has not yet been marked by any monument, the grave of a man adorned with merits. Many mourned Pavlović, the Orthodox community of Pest mourns him, which lost a diligent member, excellent in speech and writing, not easily replaceable. But the greatest loss is suffered by Matica Srpska, which went to the grave with him, with its overblown hopes and consolations. But when, despite all the sorrow and unbearable pain, eternal laws remain, there is always remembrance, even after death, for our beloved brother and friend Teodor."

"If your strength were as great as your noble will and activity," writes Dr. Pejičić, "if you had planted as many fruits in the garden of Serbdom as all of us together, you would have received the wreath of unblown merits as a faithful gardener who sowed noble seeds in us and Serbian hearts, nurtured them carefully, watered them with dew of reason and faithfully irrigated them, defended them from death, and multiplied new shoots in the Serbian world."

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