Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 08.djvu/40

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Bushell
Bushell
36

several times,' for Bushell's various speculations and experiments more than once in his career involved him in money difficulties. On the occasion of Bacon's disgrace Bushell thought it prudent to retire to the Isle of Wight, where he lived for some time disguised as a fisherman. He afterwards returned to London; but on his master's death in 1626 went again into retirement, and lived for three years in a hut constructed 470 feet above the sea in 'the desolated isle called the Calf of Man, where, in obedience to my dead lord's philosophical advice, I resolved to make a perfect experiment upon myself for the obtaining of a long and healthy life, most necessary for such a repentance as my former debauchedness required, by a parsimonious diet of herbs, oil, mustard, and honey, with water sufficient, most like to that [of] our long-lived fathers before the flood.' On leaving this retreat he came to live in Oxfordshire, where he had an estate at Road Enstone, near Woodstock. At this place he had the fortune to discover a spring and a rock of curious formation, with which, we are told, he at once proceeded to make 'all the curious fine waterworks and artificial conclusions that could be imagined,' constructing cisterns, laying 'divers pipes between the rocks,' and building 'a house over them, containing one fair room for banquetting, and several other small closets for divers uses.' Charles I, when in the neighbourhood, heard of the fame of the 'rock,' and paid Bushell an unexpected visit ; his ingenious host managed to improvise an entertainment of 'artificial thunders and lightnings, rain, hail-showers, drums beating, organs playing, birds singing, waters murmuring all sorts of tunes,' &c. On a subsequent royal visit in 1636 the rock was presented to Queen Henrietta in a kind of masque, for which Bushell himself provided some passable verse (see The Several Speeches and Songs at the Presentment of the Rock at Enston, Oxon. 1636).

In 1635 we find Bushell's name occurring in a list of persons to whom was granted the exclusive right of manufacturing soap in a particular manner ; but his acquaintance with the king soon led to his obtainmg (in January 1636-7) the more important grant of the royal mines in Wales. The mines of Cardiganshire, as containing silver mixed with their lead, formed crown property. They had formerly been farmed by Sir Hugh Middleton, who sent up the silver which he extracted to be coined at the mint in the Tower of London. After the death of Middleton the mines were reported to be inundated and 'like to decay.' Bushell in purchasing the lease proposed not only to recover the inundated mines, but also to employ new and more expeditious methods of mining ; he also proposed the more convenient plan of erecting a mint on the spot, in the castle at Aberystwith, taking care that the lead ore which in former times had been recklessly sent out of the country without the extraction of its silver should now be refined at home for the benefit of the king of England and his subjects. The mint was established in July 1637 with Bushell as warden and master-worker, and English silver coins of various denominations were issued from it. Bushell's mining schemes seem to have been fairly successful, at any rate so far as concerned the mines in Wales. He was certainly more than a mere adventurer, and always professed, probably not without sincerity, that he earned on his mining operations with a view to the enrichment of his king and country, and in order to give employment to the poorest classes as miners (see especially Mr. Bushell's Invitation by Letter to Condemned Men for Petty Felonies, to work in the Mines of their own Country rather than be banished to Slavery in Foreign Parts, and his curious composition, The Miner's Contemplative Prayer in his solitary Delves, which is conceived requisite to be published that the Reader may know his heart implores Providence for his Mineral Increase). In any case his labours were indefatigable. Shortly after his connection with the Welsh mines began, 'a great deluge of water' occurred, which necessitated a very considerable expenditure. He was laughed at by his enemies and pitied by his friends; but 'after nigh four years night and day' spent in recovering the decayed mines of the principality, and 'by the continued maintenance and industry of 600 families and the expense of about 7,000l., as a reward of my hazard . . . [God] brought me to reap the harvest of my hope.' He recovered 'several drowned mines,' and discovered other 'new branches of the old mines wrought by the Romans (viz.) at the mountains called Talibont, Broomfloid, Cambmervin, Geginan, Commustwith, Comsum Lock, and the Beacon Hill of the Daren.' 'I contrived,' he says, 'a way of adits, cutting through the lowest part of the mountain (and not beginning at the top and sinking downward), whereby the work was made . . . less subject to the casualties of damp and drowning . . . also avoiding the tedious and chargeable sinking of air-shafts, by conveying air through the mountain many hundred fathoms with pipe and bellows, a way before never used by any undertakers, but now approved by all.' He further prevented the waste of wood by refining his lead-ore with 'turf and sea-coal chark.'

During the progress of the civil war Bushell proved himself a devoted royalist, and a letter