The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

III. Critical and Miscellaneous Prose

§ 5. Richard Holt Hutton

About the same time, both Walter Bagehot and Richard Holt Hutton began to write. They were associated for nine years as joint editors of The National Review; and Hutton’s fine memoir of his colleague bears testimony to the closeness of their friendship. Of the two, Hutton, though far the less gifted, was, as a literary critic, the more influential; for Bagehot was, essentially, a publicist, and his Literary Studies, a collection of papers contributed to The National Review from the early fifties onwards, are little more than a by-product; while, in Hutton’s case, notwithstanding the theological inclinations shown in a volume on cardinal Newman, in Aspects of Religious and Scientific Thought and in one of the volumes of Essays, Theological and Literary, the critical element is the most important. Yet, Hutton is rarely free from some preoccupation which is not purely literary. His personal tastes, first of all, were theological; and, in literature, he most willingly dealt with writers in whom some theological interest was either latent or explicit. It was partly, at least, this that made him the consistent though discriminating admirer of the verse of Matthew Arnold. He detected that undertone in Arnold to which critics indifferent to such interests have been deaf. On the other hand, this preoccupation narrowed Hutton’s range. To purely aesthetic considerations he was not highly sensitive, and his criticisms are not, intrinsically, of very great value. But Hutton was more than himself. For over thirty years he was one of the editors of The Spectator; in no small degree he impressed upon that journal his own character; and, in estimating his significance, heed must be paid to the great influence it wielded under his control.