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

The Launch of the Chronicles and the Establishment of Matica Srpska

The tightening of censorship and the implementation of other measures against Serbian books and writers hindered and accelerated, but did not prevent, the development of Serbian literature.
By the 1820s, the time of Jovan Rajić and Dositej Obradović had passed, and the influence of Milovan Vidaković had almost disappeared. Dimitrije Davidović began publishing the "Serbian Gazette" in Vienna, aiming to create an organ for the practical life of the Serbian people, but due to financial difficulties in publishing the newspaper, he soon had to move to Serbia.

Vuk Karadžić published folk songs, which, due to a weak response from readers, had modest reach and failed to ignite the life that they portrayed. The voice of Šišatovac's shepherd Lukijan Mušicki echoed. But as in nature, after such a disturbance, silence ensues, so in the spiritual sphere of our people, after the upheaval, there was silence. This is how Dr. Jovan Subotić portrayed the state of our people before the beginning of the publication of the Chronicles and the establishment of Matica Srpska. Life was shaken, and its spiritual forces surged, waiting only for an opportunity to manifest themselves.

The conditions were created for the launch of the Serbian Chronicle in 1825. Its initiators were professors from the Novi Sad Gymnasium: Pavle Šafarik and Đorđe Magarašević. They submitted the first issue to censorship as early as spring 1824, with the second and third issues following in 1825.

Compared to German yearbooks, the Chronicle brought a list of members of the Austrian dynastic house, a list of Serbian priests in Hungary, a list of teachers, a list of Serbian officers, a list of Serbian lawyers, etc. It also featured biographies of notable Serbs, data on Serbian writers, patriotic stories, poems, and travel accounts from Serbian lands.

It must be emphasized that Magarašević's views, even during the publication of the Chronicle, had expanded, and in 1829, in a letter to Philoserb on Serbian Literature, he emphasized that the progress of the literature of any nation requires:
"1) Political independence of the nation: 2) National prosperity based on industry and commerce: 3) Well-established educational institutions: 4) Dignified and wealthy so-called Patrons: 5) libraries and museums: 6) learned societies and academies: 7) learned critical occasional publications: improvement of literature and literary trade."

There is no doubt that these thoughts of Magarašević could have served as guiding ideas for Teodor Pavlović in his work on the Chronicle and in Matica Srpska.

As discussions began about Vuk's orthography, and opinions were divided, Magarašević realized that a solution would be found over time. In his desire to protect the Chronicle from these conflicts, he stated that he would "endeavor by all means to ensure that the Serbian Chronicle becomes more widely accepted among our people in peace and agreement, being convinced that only time will bring about what must be brought about!" Because of this, he did not include Milovan Vidaković among his collaborators, even though he was very popular at the time because he was a prominent supporter of the existing style of writing.

Such a policy of Magarašević did not yield positive results. At that time, while new progressive forces were barely emerging, the old ones were dominant, and Magarašević, with the very first issue of the Chronicle, attracted the anger of the powerful metropolitan Stratimirović. He did not like the content of the journal, which he saw as progressive and anti-clerical.

With the very first issue of the Chronicle, Magarašević distanced himself from Vuk, as he did not meet his expectations. Magarašević belonged to the Serbian bourgeois society, which aspired to democratic ideals but was burdened by the old, which characterized the fading era.

As the calendar for the year 1825 was included in the first issue of the Chronicle, Metropolitan Stratimirović allegedly managed to persuade the authorities to ban that issue due to disagreement with the calendar, although it had already passed censorship and had been printed. Such a stance of the Metropolitan likely affected the distribution of the Chronicle, and the publisher recorded a loss with the very first issue.

Soon, there was a misunderstanding between Magarašević and Šafarik. Magarašević was in favor of the content of the Chronicle that would correspond to a wide readership, while Šafarik wanted the Chronicle to acquire a scientific character from the very first issue and to be his further orientation.

Material support for the publication of the Chronicle was accepted by the Novi Sad bookseller Konstantin Kaulici, who, in addition to the costs of printing and distribution, paid Magarašević 100 forints for editing and 25 copies of each issue of the Chronicle.

Although it was evident from the very beginning of its publication that it was a financially unsustainable venture, Kaulich informed readers only after the release of the third issue in September 1825 that, due to "important reasons," the next issue would not be printed until May 1826. This was a sign that the further publication of Letopis was actually halted.

It was precisely at this critical moment that new patriots emerged in Letopis, such as Josif Milovuk, a merchant from Pest, who had a shop at the "Ružična pijaca" and was a book lover, as he had been selling Serbian books and pictures of Serbian national heroes in his shop until then. "There I saw Dušan, Rellja the Winged, Obilić, and Prince Lazar. It may seem like a small thing, but those pictures inflamed the heart and soul of every Serb in a foreign land. Those pictures passed through the spirit and heart of the Serb."

We must emphasize here that the military leaders among the ranks of the Serbs, who increasingly devoted themselves to their professions and acquired ranks and privileges, increasingly distanced themselves from the people and became — as Skerlić writes in the History of Modern Serbian Literature — "imperial people," who over time became completely indifferent to their nation. Therefore, at that time, the main voice among the people was held by merchants and craftsmen who came from the Balkans with certain knowledge, capital, and organization and quickly took root in the non-working military and noble Hungary. Serbian merchants in Buda, Szentendre, Komoran, and Đer had a considerable share of trade in their hands, especially transit trade. They assimilated contemporaneous Greeks and Vlachs and created a strong Serbian bourgeois class, which for more than 100 years would be the bearer of Serbian culture and stand at the forefront of all Serbian movements.

Milovuk belonged to the wealthy Serbs, and he had long been distinguished by his desire for the cultural progress of the Serbs, so he had published several Serbian books at his own expense, and he had collected subscribers for almost every Serbian book. The news that the publication of the Serbian Letopis was discontinued simply defeated him. He persuaded his brother-in-law, also a wealthy merchant from Buda, Gavrilo Božitovac, to sacrifice 500 forints each for the further publication of the only Serbian magazine Letopis Srbski.

Somehow, at that time, Jovan Hadžić was in Pest, he came to take his doctorate in legal studies. Hadžić knew Letopis editor Magarašević and when Milovuk informed him of his agreement with Božitovac, he undertook to write to Magarašević under what conditions he would hand over to them the publication of Letopis. Magarašević replied by letter of January 10, 1826, that he would give Milovuk the publication under the same conditions he gave to Kaulich.

Milovuk accepted the conditions, and Magarašević sent him the prepared manuscript for the fourth issue of Letopis, and he allocated him 200 forints as a reward for editing the fourth and fifth issues of Letopis.

From the cooperation of Milovuk and Božitovac with Hadžić, the idea arose to expand the circle of Serbian patriots in Pest who would be involved in the publication of Letopis. On January 18, 1826, Milovuk visited his friends, Pest merchants: Đorđe Stanković, Petar Rajić, Andrija Rozmirović, and Jovan Demetrović, and invited them to join in supporting the publication of Letopis. All four accepted this, and they agreed to give 100 forints each without interest per annum. After that, Milovuk and Božitovac decided to each give 100 forints, with the condition that they donate their contributions for the publication of Letopis. Witnessing these agreements, Jovan Hadžić stated that if the six of them had already done it, he would also donate 100 forints.

The first joint session was held on January 24, 1826, at the apartment of Jovan Demetrović, at which it was decided that each participant would pay 100 forints by February 4.

At the next meeting held on January 31, 1826, it was decided that their contributions would not be considered as a loan, but as a donation for the establishment of a fund for the publication of Serbian books. At that time, it was agreed that Hadžić would prepare a program and propose the name of the future association.

Soon, at the session of February 2, 1826, the statute was adopted according to which the association was called Matica, whose task was to nurture literature and spread enlightenment among the Serbian people. Any Serbian could become a member of Matica, the annual contribution was set at 2 forints, and the amount of the founding donation was at the discretion of the member himself. The meeting also elected a board of directors, whose chairman was Đorđe Stanković, the first president of the association.

It was agreed that Milovuk should be the editor of the Matica magazine Letopis, and the members decided to financially support Letopis with a donation of 500 forints per year.

The first issue of Letopis was published on May 1, 1826, and its publication was continued until 1832.

The beginning of the publication of Letopis was a new turning point in the history of the Serbs in Hungary and one of the most important events in the history of Serbian literature. The magazine Letopis laid the foundations of a national renaissance among the Serbs in Hungary and prepared the ground for the National Rebirth Movement, which began in 1848.

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