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.

Theodor Pavlović, attorney from Peštan

After completing his studies in Pozun in 1825, Pavlović moved to Pest, where his friend Dr. Pejičić arranged for him a sufficient number of students for tutoring in various subjects, thus providing him with the necessary income during his internship. He was placed as an apprentice at the office of the well-known Pest attorney, Rakić. However, after Rakić's death, Pavlović joined the office of the renowned Hungarian poet and lawyer, Mihajlo Vitković.

Working under Vitković was an exceptional opportunity for Pavlović to acquire a solid professional education and to become acquainted with the most prominent figures among the Serbs and influential Hungarians. Due to his diligence and talent, Pavlović quickly gained recognition as a prominent attorney in Pest after establishing his own office. If not for his patriotism, he could have become wealthy in no time.

Vitković was not only a skilled attorney but also a respected writer. Although he wrote in Hungarian, he identified himself as a Serb. His household was Serbian-oriented and enjoyed great respect among wealthy Serbs and literary figures. His home and office served as a hub for literary and political activities in Hungary. Count Istvan Sečenji was a frequent guest at Vitković's house. The idea of founding the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, whose creator was Count Sečenji, was born there. Nearly all prominent Hungarian writers of that time visited Vitković's place.

In such an environment, Pavlović developed into an excellent attorney and a devoted Serbian patriot. Besides, he established friendly relations with almost all notable Hungarians in Pest and Hungary and nurtured friendships with prominent Serbs. He became acquainted with Sava Tekelija, who, despite being a lawyer himself, appointed Pavlović as his secretary and advisor in significant endeavors. Among others, there were Đorđe Servicki from Turkish Kanjiža (Novi Kneževac), Petar Čarnojević, Baron Jović, Đorđe Divan from Padej, the Ostojić brothers, Jovan Nako, Nika Malenica, and many others. Pavlović influenced a considerable number of prominent individuals regarding initiatives aimed at promoting and strengthening Serbian national consciousness.

Pavlović maintained good relations with Serbian writers of his time. Most of them contributed their writings to his newspapers. Among them was Sima Milutinović-Sarajlija.

Pavlović also had good relations with our ecclesiastical hierarchy. He had a close relationship with Lukiјan Mušicki, expressing great enthusiasm and deep respect for him. He was in good terms with Bishop Platon Atanacković of Buda. However, he could not establish good relations with Metropolitan Rajacic because the Metropolitan never forgave him for supporting Bishop Platon Atanacković's candidacy instead of Rajacic's during the elections for the Metropolitan.

Thus, Pavlović, with all the favorable conditions in Vitković's law office and house, but above all, due to his work and moral qualities, quickly became a well-known attorney in Pest.

According to Dr. Subotić, Pavlović's law firm, at that time, "had up to 100 lawsuits, which was a significant number considering that one lawsuit supported generations of attorneys materially."

Pavlović's highest ideal was for his Serbian people to reach the prosperity and culture of other nations in Hungary. This idea completely captivated him, and he dedicated all his activity to it. His involvement in tasks related to the publication and editing of his two newspapers: "Srbski narodni list" and "Srbske narodne novine," as well as editing the Letopis and serving as the secretary of the Matica Srpska during its transformation period, engaged him so much that he neglected his law practice and eventually closed his law office.

He relied on income from his journalistic activities and salary at Matica Srpska as a secretary and editor of Letopis. His newspapers drained him materially to such an extent that after twenty years of effort, in his mature creative age (which wasn’t old age but a mature creative period for a healthy person at 45-46 years of age), he lived on the mercy of his brother and a few friends.

Besides his work, Pavlović's demeanor and appearance contributed to his reputation as a patriot and lawyer. He had a gentle nature - kind-hearted, a friend to his friends as one could only wish for. As an opponent, he was mild and respected the merits of his adversaries. These were the words spoken about him by Dr. Jovan Subotić at the assembly of Matica Srpska on St. Sava's Day in 1871, in front of an audience familiar with Pavlović and his merits, before whom falsehoods could not be presented.

We emphasize this because in the book dedicated to the centenary of Matica Srpska, "Matica Srpska 1826-1926," in the chapter "ESTABLISHMENT OF TEKELIJANUM AND DENUNCIATIONS AGAINST THEODOR PAVLOVIĆ AND MATICA SRPSKA," a completely opposite assessment is provided. The impression is that the title about denunciations should serve as a pretext for qualifying Theodor Pavlović as a man prone to conflict, as on page 21 of that book it is written:

"There were particularly acerbic attacks against Theodor Pavlović, who had enemies on all sides. A bachelor, full of ideals, poor yet gallant, a true warrior, there was something in his nature that created distrust and incited people against him."

We do not wish to provide any commentary on this assessment, but we would merely pose the question: to whom could Jovan Nako and Sava Tekelija, such experienced, educated, and cautious individuals, have been a guarantee, in the days of the newly revived Matica when it didn’t even have its own office, for him to entrust his wealth to it?!

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