CAPTAIN WILLIAM BUSH, RN
AS SEEN IN:
(The Eighth Doctor)
Captain William Bush RN is a fictional character in C.S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower series". He is Hornblower's best friend, and serves with Hornblower in the Royal Navy prior to the Peace of Amiens and again during the Napoleonic Wars.
In the Hornblower TV series, Bush was played by Paul McGann. Few changes were made to the character, although some aspects of his role in Lieutenant Hornblower were transferred to Lt. "Archie" Kennedy, who does not appear in the novel.
Bush's role in the novels is that of Hornblower's best friend and second-in-command. He is characterized chiefly by his loyalty, his patience, good nature, and stolid matter-of-fact outlook. Although Hornblower genuinely cares for Bush, he often frustrates and hurts him through harsh criticism. Hornblower, although a brilliant strategist, is a painfully self-conscious and hyperactively introspective man who tries desperately to conceal from the world what he perceives as "weaknesses". However, Bush sees Hornblower as he is:
Bush could be fond of [Hornblower] even while he laughed at him, and
could respect him even while he knew of his weaknesses.
Bush's loyalty to Hornblower is in fact strengthened by Hornblower's
limitations and his attempts to conceal them.
Little of the private life of William Bush is revealed in the Hornblower novels. A significant personal detail about Bush is that he has a mother and four sisters who live in a cottage in Chichester and depend upon Bush for their support. His sisters "devoted all their attention to him whenever it was possible," and he is as devoted to them as he gives them half of his pay. Forester does not reveal whether Bush grew up in Chichester, or at what age he left home. He was "brought up in a harsh school," an experience which taught him caution and perhaps contributed to his natural stolidity.
Forester did not give a date of birth for Bush: indeed, Bush's age changes over the course of the novels. Bush is first described as being a few years older than Hornblower (similar to an older brother), but is later described as ten years older. Nevertheless, Forester does portray Bush consistently as a character who is wistfully protective of his younger friend.
In July 1796 Bush received his commission as lieutenant while serving on the HMS Superb, and thus took the first significant step in his career as a naval officer. Bush recalls that he relied more on "seamanship and not navigation" to pass the requisite examination.
Bush served on board HMS Conqueror just prior to his assignment to Renown. However, Hornblower "biographer" C. Northcote Parkinson remarks that "Bush's last ship had been the HMS Dolphin sloop".