1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hutton, Richard Holt
HUTTON, RICHARD HOLT (1826–1897), English writer and theologian, son of Joseph Hutton, Unitarian minister at Leeds, was born at Leeds on the 2nd of June 1826. His family removed to London in 1835, and he was educated at University College School and University College, where he began a lifelong friendship with Walter Bagehot, of whose works he afterwards was the editor; he took the degree in 1845, being awarded the gold medal for philosophy. Meanwhile he had also studied for short periods at Heidelberg and Berlin, and in 1847 he entered Manchester New College with the idea of becoming a minister like his father, and studied there under James Martineau. He did not, however, succeed in obtaining a call to any church, and for some little time his future was unsettled. He married in 1851 his cousin, Anne Roscoe, and became joint-editor with J. L. Sanford of the Inquirer, the principal Unitarian organ. But his innovations and his unconventional views about stereotyped Unitarian doctrines caused alarm, and in 1853 he resigned. His health had broken down, and he visited the West Indies, where his wife died of yellow fever. In 1855 Hutton and Bagehot became joint-editors of the National Review, a new monthly, and conducted it for ten years. During this time Hutton’s theological views, influenced largely by Coleridge, and more directly by F. W. Robertson and F. D. Maurice, gradually approached more and more to those of the Church of England, which he ultimately joined. His interest in theology was profound, and he brought to it a spirituality of outlook and an aptitude for metaphysical inquiry and exposition which added a singular attraction to his writings. In 1861 he joined Meredith Townsend as joint-editor and part proprietor of the Spectator, then a well-known liberal weekly, which, however, was not remunerative from the business point of view. Hutton took charge of the literary side of the paper, and by degrees his own articles became and remained up to the last one of the best-known features of serious and thoughtful English journalism. The Spectator, which gradually became a prosperous property, was his pulpit, in which unwearyingly he gave expression to his views, particularly on literary, religious and philosophical subjects, in opposition to the agnostic and rationalistic opinions then current in intellectual circles, as popularized by Huxley. A man of fearless honesty, quick and catholic sympathies, broad culture, and many friends in intellectual and religious circles, he became one of the most influential journalists of the day, his fine character and conscience earning universal respect and confidence. He was an original member of the Metaphysical Society (1869). He was an anti-vivisectionist, and a member of the royal commission (1875) on that subject. In 1858 he had married Eliza Roscoe, a cousin of his first wife; she died early in 1897, and Hutton’s own death followed on the 9th of September of the same year.
Among his other publications may be mentioned Essays, Theological and Literary (1871; revised 1888), and Criticisms on Contemporary Thought and Thinkers (1894); and his opinions may be studied compendiously in the selections from his Spectator articles published in 1899 under the title of Aspects of Religious and Scientific Thought.