THE election of Campbell, who was Lord Brougham’s
successor, was carried under
circumstances peculiarly flattering to the illustrious poet. The name set
up against his was no less than that of George Canning, but the bard of
Hope gained the election by a vast majority. The election of Lord Rector,
originally instituted for the protection of the rights of the students,
had become a sinecure honour. And Mr. Campbell’s predecessors had, from
time immemorial, contented themselves with coming for a few days to
Glasgow and making a speech on their installation.
Campbell set the first remembered
example of a Lord Rector attending with scrupulous punctuality to the
duties which his oath implied. He spent several weeks in examining the
statutes, accounts, and whole management of the University.
During the first and second years of
his rectorship, however, Royal Commissioners were employed in a similar
inspection, and with their proceedings he found it beyond his power to
interfere. But so much satisfaction had been diffused among the students
by his known good intentions, that they resolved to confer upon him the
honour, unprecedented for a century, of electing him for a third year.
To this proceeding the professors
objected, and setting up Sir Walter Scott as a candidate, gained over a
large body of the students, and, in fact, the nomination of Sir Walter was
carried by what the Campbellites considered an unfair election. A
deputation of them, therefore, went off to Edinburgh, and, waiting on Sir
Walter Scott, expressed themselves to that effect. This illustrious
individual accordingly sent word to the professors that he declined the
proferred honour. Campbell immediately left London for Glasgow, insisted
on a new election, and carried it triumphantly. Such was the joy of the
students on the occasion that they founded the
in honour of the poet.