Son of Sir Everard Digby, who had been executed for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. Kenelm was knighted by James I, and held various offices under Charles I. He commanded a squadron against the Venetians in 1628, and was converted to Roman Catholicism about 1636. Put in prison by the Parliament at the commencement of the civil war, he regained his liberty in 1643 and went to France, returning after Cromwell had become Protector. The argumentative bearing of his case upon Dryden's is at first sight a little obscure. Johnson means to enforce his position that ' at any other time ' Dryden's conversion ' might have passed with little censure .' No one doubts the sincerity of Sir Kenelm Digby's conversion, because it was against his own interests; therefore we only doubt in Dryden's case because
'that conversion will always be suspected that apparently concurs with interest'
And this one circumstance, constituting the sole difference between the two cases, is not, as Johnson proceeds to show, sufficient evidence of hypocrisy.
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