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.

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Ban on the Work of Matica srpska and the Abolition of the "Letopis"

In addition to the difficulties Pavlović faced with the supporters of Vuk's orthography, there were individuals within Matica itself who incited conflicts and disputes. Lawsuits against Matica opponents emerged even before Pavlović became secretary, just over a year after its establishment, in 1827. Disagreements were present from the first issue of Letopis, before Matica was even founded, between Šafarik and Magarašević regarding the concept of Letopis, followed by conflicts within Matica itself between its founders Hadžić and Milovuk, and so forth.

Upon Pavlović's appointment as secretary, intrigues and subversions did not cease. In 1833, merchant Nikola Stojanović, who slandered Pavlović by alleging that he retained membership fees from new members for himself, was excluded from membership. From this and similar cases mentioned in the aforementioned jubilee memorial for the centenary of Matica "Matica srpska 1826–1926," a mistaken assessment of Pavlović as a conflict-prone individual was made, suggesting something in his nature created distrust towards him. Contrary to this assessment, we presented evaluations by his contemporaries: Dr. Jovan Subotić, David Davidović, and even somewhat younger figures such as Ljubomir Lоtić and Andrija Matić.

Perhaps such a negative assessment was supposed to serve as a pretext for the ban on the work of Matica srpska and the abolition of Letopis.

There are several assumptions regarding the reasons for the ban on work and the abolition of Letopis. In the centenary memorial of Matica, adopted by Živan Milisavac and in his book "Matica srpska 1846–1964," the one that seems least acceptable to us was adopted. Namely, in early 1834, an investigation was launched regarding the printing of "ŽIVOTOOPISANIJE JOAKIMA VUJIĆA," which the Pest censor banned due to its Russophile content. To avoid this ban, the author submitted the manuscript in Karlovci, where the military administration was, and the local censor permitted printing. When this was discovered, an investigation was launched to seize all copies, and inspections were carried out in all bookstores. On that occasion, a large quantity of Serbian books, especially a large number of Srbski letopis copies, was found in Đorđa Kirјaković's bookstore in Novi Sad. It was then established that Matica srpska did not have approval for work and the publication of Letopis.

It is difficult to accept that Joakim Vujić's autobiography was so dangerous that it prompted the authorities to inspect all Serbian bookstores in Hungary and only then discover that Matica did not have approval for work. Matica operated in Pest and was constantly under the scrutiny of censorship and the corresponding authorities, so it is unlikely that they would overlook whether it had approval for work, especially upon seeing Letopis (unsold) prompting them to verify Matica's approval!

According to another assumption, the reason for the ban could have been a request from Pest intellectuals to allow them to establish a literary society. The request was rejected allegedly because there was no guarantee provided for securing the financial means of the society. Perhaps this was the pretext for the Hungarian authorities, which undoubtedly viewed the cultural strengthening of Serbs in Hungary with suspicion, to discover that Matica srpska also lacked approval for work.

The third assumption, which seems most plausible to us, is Vuk's desperate letter sent from Zemun on August 23, 1832, to Kоpitar, drawing the attention of Austrian authorities to the fact that a Russophile-oriented Serbian Letopis had been published in Pest since 1826, four times a year. This assumption was mentioned in issue III of Letopis for the year 1840 on pages 122 and 156 as the reason for the lawsuit against Matica and Letopis originating from Serbs.

Dr. Konstantin Pejićić in his book "ŽIVOT THEODORA PAVLOVIĆA" states that the ban resulted from a lawsuit by Vuk and his supporters. This book was published in 1857. Vuk's supporters had almost complete control over Serbian printing and public opinion, and this assertion was neither denied then nor later.

Before the decision to ban work was made, it was ordered on February 12, 1835, to suspend Matica's activities until the nature of the association and its leadership were determined.

Before the final decision by the authorities, Matica submitted a petition trying to prove that its work was permitted by the decree of the emperor from September 3, 1812.

The investigation lasted throughout 1835 and 1836, and Matica had to cease its operations once the investigation began at the end of 1834.

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