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.

Biographical Profile of Teodor Pavlović

Theodor-Toša Pavlović was born on February 14, 1804, in Karlovu (today Novi Milošev) in Banat. His parents were: father Pavle, a cobbler and long-time village leader, mother Jelisaveta Matić, a housewife.
He completed his primary education in his hometown of Karlovu as a good student, which encouraged his parents, despite their poverty, to continue his education. To learn German, his father took him to Hacfeld (Žombolj) the following year. He completed the first grade of high school in Temišvar. In order to reduce the costs of education, they moved him closer to Karlovu in Kikinda, where he finished the second grade. He completed the third grade in Segedin, where his parents moved him to learn Hungarian, because his native village of Karlovu was a purely Serbian village. He completed the remaining grades: fourth, fifth, and sixth grade of high school in Sremski Karlovci.

Pavlović was one of the few Karlovac students supported by parents. At that time, most students of the Sremski Karlovci high school had scholarships, or as they were called, endowments.

With his seriousness, careful attitude, and respect towards others, he attracted the attention of professors, classmates, and even the citizens of Karlovac, as soon as he arrived in Sremski Karlovci. His best friend from the Karlovac high school and his biographer Dr. Konstantin Pejićić, a doctor in Pančevo, said of Theodore that he was "as beautiful as a flower, as modest as a virgin, as diligent as an ant, and as accurate as a bee," thus he evoked general love. But above all, he stood out with exceptional memory, surpassing all his classmates in school. Not only could he remember a lot and the best, but he was also particularly gifted with fluent speech and ease of presentation.

Because of his scanty knowledge with which he came to the Karlovac high school, alongside all his talent, he could not fully stand out, even in the first year after arrival. However, already in the next, fifth grade, Professor Grigorije Lazić, who taught mathematics, natural sciences, and philosophy, was one of the first to equate Theodore with himself, and he became his favorite, putting him above all students for the entire time of schooling in Karlovci. He supported him in his dignified and attentive behavior, both in school and on the street and on every occasion. It is important to note here that for the fifth and sixth grades of high school in Karlovci, there were only two professors: Grigorije Lazić and Pavle Jovanović. Lazić was one of the most respected professors of the Karlovac high school. Due to his work in botany, he became a member of the Regensburg Botanical Society.

In Karlovci, Pavlović showed his desire for reading, which he nurtured until the end of his intellectual activity.

After finishing high school, he moved to Segedin, where he graduated in philosophy with excellent success. From the quite, at that time, neglected Segedin, upon the invitation of his schoolmate Pejićić, he moved to the mild and more favorable life of Pozun (Bratislava), where in 1825 he graduated in law with excellent success.

In Bratislava, he started teaching younger students in certain subjects. That's how he supported himself, relieving his otherwise, materially quite exhausted parents. It can even be said that he did not suffer any shortages in Bratislava.

Although he loved to read, he read little until Pozun. He was surprised when he learned from his Pozun friends that they were already widely acquainted with Horace, Goethe, Voltaire, and others. He felt particularly surprised and somewhat embarrassed when, during a walk on the other side of the Danube, Pejićić (taking out of his pocket) began to read Schiller's book. He was so confused that he said he understood the words, but did not grasp the meaning. Pejićić tried to explain it to him, which Theodore accepted without blinking. It didn't take long before Pavlović read all of it and penetrated into the essence of the author's inspiration.

He and Pejičić utilized all the libraries in Bratislava, even the Evangelical Lyceum's, as well as private libraries. This allowed them to access books that weren't easily obtainable. Since that time, Pavlović had an insatiable thirst for reading, but more for what would benefit his people than himself.

Throughout his schooling, his patriotism manifested to such an extent that no task aimed at that goal seemed difficult or insurmountable. He was ready, even in those days, to sacrifice for the progress of his nation, always mindful not to offend with his patriotic fervor or to underestimate his classmates and acquaintances of other nationalities. He was very sensitive, always careful not to insult others' dignity.

Pavlović's nature, full of warm feelings, predisposed him to social life. He loved his relatives and friends, but even more so their children, with a fervent paternal love, and all those children called him their Uncle Tošo. In company, though rarely, and with his brother, he was a moderate enthusiast. Then he would pour out his rich feelings in song. His favorite songs were "The Girl Fell Asleep under the Linden" and "Smiljane Smiljanić". Sometimes he would sing Vitković's song "What Would This World Be Without Hope".

He loved art and was its devotee whenever the opportunity arose. In his apartment, alongside luxurious furniture, he had several artistic paintings that caught everyone's eye with their beauty. Everything in his apartment was beautiful and in moderation, just like his dressing style. Dr. Subotić says he was always so neat and elegant, "like from a box".

He was of average height, with a pleasant appearance. His voice was gentle, too modest, and when he opposed someone, he did so more with his facial expressions than with words. He had a handsome figure, gentlemanly demeanor, and behavior. He paid a lot of attention to elegance in dressing and to refined company. Nature had endowed him with lavish beauty, and his spiritual side did not lag behind. It was as if nature were competing, making it difficult to say whether his appearance was more beautiful or his noble heart and elevated spirit.

He inherited his mother's likeness and nature; she inspired him with her modesty and quiet, patient nature. His mother was the idol of his heart — as Dr. Pejičić writes — who survived to her greatest sorrow. Without a doubt, with her quiet humility and Christian soul, she imbued her children, Theodor and Jovan, with that spirit. Only such a mother can raise and nurture a child who will look at her as the apple of his eye. To please her and enjoy every blessing of life with her, he brought her to Pest. There he transformed her modest national attire into decent urban clothing, and just as she nurtured him in the cradle, he tenderly cared for her. He hid his worries, which had occupied him throughout his life, from her. To provide her with every comfort and share joy with her, he always came home with a cheerful and smiling face.

Theodor was a man of the broadest and noblest understanding, which was hard to find equal to. However, despite all his human qualities, he suffered so much and ended so tragically.

Having finished law school, he came to Budapest in 1826, where he was provided a place as a legal intern with one of the most prominent Budapest lawyers, Mihajlo Vitković. Due to his diligence and intelligence, Vitković grew fond of him and endeavored to introduce him to all the secrets of the legal profession, as well as to acquaint him with the most prominent people, both Serbian and Hungarian. Thanks to, among other things, this, Pavlović soon became a respected lawyer with a large clientele, enough to live a luxurious life. However, this was not his life goal. He wanted to help his people and be of use to them.

Upon arriving in Pest, he became a member of the Serbian Learned Society and started contributing his writings to the Annals. Thanks to his diligence in collaboration with the Annals, he was elected as its editor in 1832, and in the same year, he became the secretary of the Serbian Learned Society. He soon began editing and publishing, in addition to his work at the Annals and in the Society, his two newspapers: the Serbian People's Gazette and the Serbian People's Newspaper, which he published for 10 and 11 years, respectively, until the great revolt, and even in the early months of the revolt. This work in the Society, at the Annals, and in his newspapers engaged him so much that he abandoned his law practice, which had been his only secure source of income. Not much time passed before he had to close his law office.

Countless and diverse responsibilities, constant financial problems, and the struggle for daily bread, with Serbian newspapers poorly supported by the people, all this caused an early unconsciousness and nervousness of the heart, which later turned into a tendency towards hypochondria. This evil began to cloud his consciousness, the brightest gift of his soul — as Dr. Pejičić says.

During the great revolt, tormented by dangers for the Serbian people, he bravely opposed enemies of Serbianism to his last abilities, although he himself faced danger to his life.

From the outbreak of the revolt until May 1848, events occurred that made him suddenly fear for his life not only from the Hungarian masses but also from the Serbian people, or rather from the leadership of the Serbian movement — Rajacic.

The shocks he experienced in 1848 darkened his weary spirit, and he had to stop working and settle into a state of peace. Constant mental strain, spiritual fear, and mental torment with which he lived for the last two months, from the outbreak of the revolt, deep depression, and despair began to manifest themselves in the darkening of his mind, from which he did not free himself until his death at his mother's and brother's home in Karlovac on August 12/24, 1854.

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