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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Thomas Campbell's re-election as Lord Rector of Glasgow University


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 Campbell Club in honour of the poet.


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