Rare Experiments in Physick and Philosophy’ (1683); the latter concludes with an elaborate recipe for the manufacture of Digby's powder (see Pettigrew, Medical Superstitions, pp. 156–7).
As a philosopher Digby was an Aristotelian, and had not extricated himself from the confused methods of the schoolmen. He undoubtedly owed much to Thomas White (1582–1676) [q. v.], the catholic philosopher, who lived with him while in France. White issued three Latin volumes expounding what he called ‘Digby's peripatetic philosophy,’ and covered far more ground than Digby occupied in the treatises going under his name. While arriving at orthodox catholic conclusions respecting the immortality of the soul, free will, and the like, Digby's and White's methods are for the most part rationalistic, and no distinct mention is made of christianity. White's books were consequently placed on the Index. Digby doubtless owed his political notions, which enabled him to regard Charles I, Cromwell, and Charles II as equally rightful rulers, to White as well as his philosophy. Alexander Ross in ‘Medicus Medicatus,’ Highmore in his ‘History of Generation’ (1651), and Henry Stubbes in his ‘Animadversions upon Glanvil’ attack Digby's philosophic views, and Butler has many sarcastic remarks upon him in ‘Hudibras’ and the ‘Elephant and the Moon.’
Vandyck painted several portraits of both Sir Kenelm and Lady Digby. Vandyck's finest portrait of Lady Digby is at Althorpe. Another picture of Lady Digby, by Cornelius Janssen, is at Althorpe. Vandyck's best-known portraits of Sir Kenelm are those in the National Portrait Gallery and the Oxford University Picture Gallery. A portrait of Sir Kenelm, belonging to the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the winter of 1887. A painting of St. Francis, at Mount St. Bernard Monastery, Charnwood Forest, bears the inscription ‘Kenelmus Digbæus pinxit, 1643.’ The painter was, perhaps, Sir Kenelm's son.
[The chief authorities for Digby's life are his own Memoirs, first published in 1827, which only take his career down to 1629, and mainly deal with his courtship of Venetia Stanley. The characters and places appear under fictitious names: thus, Sir Kenelm calls himself Theagenes, his wife Stelliana, Sir Edward Sackville Mardontius, London Corinth, and so forth. For these identifications see Sir H. N. Nicolas's introduction, several papers by J. G. Nichols in Gent. Mag. for 1829, and Mr. Warner's notes in Poems from Digby's Papers, 1877. Digby's Journal of the Scanderoon Voyage, published by the Camden Society (1868), has a useful introduction by John Bruce. The Biog. Brit. (Kippis) has an exhaustive life. A life by [T. Longueville] one of Digby's descendants appeared in 1896. See also Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 688; Aubrey's Lives, ii. 323; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library; Cal. State Papers, 1635–65; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 174, 2nd ser. vii. 299, viii. 395, 3rd ser. ii. 45; Clarendon's Life, i. 18; Bright's Poems from Digby's Papers (Roxburghe Club, 1877); Evelyn's Diary; Lords' Journals, vol. vi.; Commons' Journals, vi. vii. viii.; Laud's Works; Thurloe's State Papers; Hallam's Lit. of Europe; Epist. Hoelianæ, Rémusat's Philosophie Anglaise depuis Bacon jusqu'à Locke, 1875, has valuable comments on Digby's philosophy; other authorities are cited above.]
DIGBY, KENELM HENRY (1800–1880), miscellaneous writer, born in 1800, was the youngest son of the Very Rev. William Digby, dean of Clonfert, who belonged to the Irish branch of Lord Digby's family, and was descended from the ancient Leicestershire family of the same name. He received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B.A. in 1819 (Graduati Cantab. ed. 1873, p. 116). While a student at the university he entered into an examination of the antiquities of the middle ages, and subsequently made a searching inquiry into the scholastic system of theology, the result being that at an early age he became a convert to Roman catholicism. Most of his subsequent life was spent in literary leisure in the metropolis, and he died at his residence, Shaftesbury House, Kensington, on 22 March 1880.
By his wife, Jane Mary, daughter of Thomas Dillon of Mount Dillon, co. Dublin, he left an only son, Kenelm Thomas Digby, formerly M.P. for Queen's County.
His principal works are:
- ‘The Broadstone of Honour, or Rules for the Gentlemen of England,’ Lond. 1822, 12mo, 2nd edition, enlarged, 1823; both these editions are anonymous. Afterwards he rewrote the book, omitting its second title, and enlarging it into four closely printed volumes, to which he gave the titles respectively of ‘Godefridus,’ ‘Tancredus,’ ‘Morus,’ and ‘Orlandus.’ These appeared in 1826–7, and other editions in 3 vols. 1828–9 and 1845–8. An édition de luxe in 5 vols. 8vo was published at London 1876–1877. Julius Hare characterises the ‘Broadstone of Honour’ as ‘that noble manual for gentlemen, that volume which, had I a son, I would place in his hands, charging him, though such admonition would be needless, to love it next to his bible’ (Guesses at Truth, 1st edit. i. 152).
- ‘Mores Catholici; or Ages of Faith,’ 11 vols. Lond. 1831–40; Cincinnati, 1840, &c., 8vo; 3 vols. Lond. 1845–1847.
- ‘Compitum; or the Meeting of the Ways at the Catholic Church,’ 7 vols.