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.

Matica srpska has become the most significant institution for the cultural and national transformation of Serbs

The Serbian Literary Cooperative, founded in 1826, later renamed Matica srpska, became the most significant institution for the cultural and national transformation of the Serbian people.

Even before Sava Tekelija, Jovan Nako, with the epithet Velikosemikluški, became in 1837 under the influence of Pavlović, a popular benefactor, by donating 5,000 forints in silver to Matica. Nako actually bequeathed this amount the same year when Matica renewed its work, but the actual transfer of that amount was made only after 7 years, in 1844. Due to the delayed transfer of funds, we considered, because he indeed was, Sava Tekelija as the first and greatest benefactor of Matica srpska.

Jovan Nako specified the purpose of his endowment by his Basic Letter, to support Serbian literature. According to the content of the Letter, it should not be spent, only the interest (interest) and that for rewarding literary works.
Awards were paid from this endowment to numerous writers, and it greatly contributed to the development of Serbian literature. The significance of it is illustrated by the fact that, besides all the awards, the capital at the end of 1921 amounted to 46,784 crowns.
After Sava Tekelija and Jovan Nako, it was much easier to attract donors and other Serbian wealthy and patriots. They, guided by their patriotism, now had different views on Matica, which, besides acquired moral prestige, also had material backing. It meant great security to every donor that his work would be carefully preserved and purposefully used and that it would outlive him as such, which, among other things, was the main motive for donation.
Thus, besides Tekelija and Nako, new donors appeared and new endowments were created, such as the endowment of Pavle Jovanović in 1854, Nestor Dimitrijević in 1856, so until the First World War, Matica had, in addition to the endowment of Sava Tekelija, another twelve endowments from which Serbian students were funded.
Considering the poor economic situation of our people, the interest in these scholarships was great. For example, it was announced that in 1904, there were 16 applicants for one position from the Nestor Dimitrijević endowment, in the same year, there were 17 candidates for one position from the endowment of Petar Kostić, and the same number applied for one position from the endowment of Sime Đorđević. The pressure was constant, so in 1908, there were 21 applicants for one position from the Nestor Dimitrijević endowment, and from the endowment of Gedeon Dundjerski in the same year, there were 18 students. From the endowment of Gedeon Dundjerski in 1912, there were 15 candidates, among whom were 10 excellent students.
Just a few of these data illustrate how much help Matica srpska was for the education of Serbian youth with its funds. They also show how many excellent Serbian students, perhaps due to poverty, often interrupted their education.
If the testator did not put additional conditions, the best but also the poorest students among the submitted applications were selected as scholarship holders. The selected scholarship holders enjoyed the same benefits until the completion of their studies. There are examples where a particular scholarship holder enjoyed these benefits for twelve to fourteen years, from the first grade of high school to a doctorate. Here, the first grade of high school is considered today's fifth grade of elementary school. In case of poor learning, the student would lose the scholarship after the first warning.
Tekelijanum was under the supervision and management of Matica from its founding in 1838 until 1878, when Matica handed it over to the Orthodox Serbian Church Parish in Pest. During its management, Matica awarded scholarships to 179 students from this fund. From 1878 until the First World War, 167 students were awarded scholarships. Many of them became national leaders and the elite of the Serbian people.

Before the beginning of the First World War, Matica had an average of about 50 scholarship holders annually, which was a quarter more than it had before the end of the previous century. In 1900, scholarship payments amounted to 32,000 gold crowns, and in 1914, over 40,000 crowns were paid out. Taking into account all the scholarships paid out since 1838, Matica had paid out several million crowns by the time of the First World War, and the exchange rate between the crown and the Swiss franc was 100:95 in favor of the crown. These were such large sums that none of the founders of Matica could have imagined them.

After the First World War, the endowments were converted into dinars in 1921, and instead of considering the value of the funds expressed in gold crowns and determining the relationship to the dinar based on that, which would realistically increase the value expressed in dinars by 15-16 times, the exchange rate was set at 4:1 in favor of the dinar, i.e., four crowns for one dinar. In this way, Matica's funds were "crippled," and Matica's material capabilities were reduced, as the authors of the aforementioned book on the centenary of Matica observed: "the entire educational system was destroyed."

However, despite all this, Matica continued to provide scholarships to good students and students, creating dozens and dozens of highly skilled individuals in Yugoslavia who contributed not only to the cultural and scientific but also to the economic development of the country.

Several of Matica's scholarship holders became members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, and dozens of scientists and artists, writers, and publicists emerged from its ranks. There were university professors, prominent politicians, engineers, doctors, high school teachers, lawyers, and successful businessmen among them.

Similarly, with the funds intended for the development of Serbian literature, thousands and thousands of forints were paid out in the form of rewards for successful works or author royalties, thanks to which publishing activities, or literary work, simply flourished.

Immediately after receiving funds for the Jovan Nako fund in 1844, Matica announced a competition for five books: a grammar book, the history of Serbs in Austria, a book on the education of Orthodox priests in Hungary, popular history of the Serbian people, and an epic about a subject from Serbian history. For the first two books, a reward of 100 ducats was provided, fifty for the third, sixty for the fourth, and forty for the fifth. For the circumstances at the time, these were very attractive rewards, and this was at the very beginning of the use of this fund. It was a significant incentive for the development and improvement of Serbian literature.

Matica became, just as the name suggests, a hub for Serbian publishing activities. Young Serbian writers gathered around it and achieved their first successes in their literary and journalistic activities. It continued to do so more and more each year, up to the present day. Even during the period of socialist rule, when funds and almost all material wealth except for the building, library, and museum exhibits, as well as valuable manuscripts and books, were confiscated or sequestered, Matica remained a hive where young writers and scientists thrived. It remained the most prominent and esteemed cultural and educational institution of the Serbs. Many "fledglings" within Matica's publications strengthened their wings and soared into scientific and artistic spheres, becoming personalities of such worldwide renown that the Serbian people are proud of them.

Related Articles