At the age of fourteen he was permitted by Scotch law to name his own curators, or guardians, and selecting William Pitt and Dundas for this office he spent much of his time at their houses, thus meeting many of the leading politicians of the day.
The chancellor is elected for life by the general council, of which he is head; and the rights of the city as the original founder have been recognized by giving to the town council the election of four of the seven curators, with whom rest the appointment of the principal, the patronage of seventeen of the chairs, and a share in other appointments.
Ultimately he seems to have got free access to the collection, which he re-catalogued - the work of almost a whole summer, for which the curators rewarded him with nine guilders.
The father of Hugo was a lawyer in considerable practice, who had four times served the office of burgomaster of Leiden, and was one of the three curators of the university of that place.
The Mainz Commission, though hampered by the jealousy of the governments (the king of Prussia refused to allow his subjects to be haled before it), was none the less effective enough in preventing all free expression of opinion; while at the universities the official curators kept Liberal enthusiasts in order.