Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/703

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SKETCH OF PROFESSOR B. A. GOULD.

SKETCH OF PROFESSOR B. A. GOULD.
By ERVING WINSLOW.

BENJAMIN APTHORP GOULD was born in Boston, September 27, 1824. He is the son of the late Benjamin Apthorp Gould and Lucretia Dana Goddard. His childhood was marked by many precocious indications of genius, which have been laid up in the memory of a united and gifted family, in which his relations, filial, fraternal, and paternal, have been singularly loyal, honorable, and affectionate. When three years old he read easily and with sufficient expression to make it pleasant for others to hear him. At five he made a fair original version of an ode of Horace. As a lad he was very fond of botany. Starting one day with his brother in pursuit of a flower which grew at a great distance from home, the brother returned to his mother after a long absence, asking what was the matter with his companion. He said they had walked a long time, and that then his brother had fallen and was lying on the ground. He was sought in vain: and when he returned home with his specimen it was found that the persevering boy had overtaxed his strength, fainted from exhaustion, and after his recovery had still followed and accomplished his pursuit. When he was ten years old his family were summoned by written invitations to attend a lecture upon electricity which young Gould had prepared, which proved to be no mere childish play, but a well-considered discourse, illustrated by a complete and neatly constructed electrical machine entirely of his own manufacture. He prepared for college at the Boston Latin School, taking high rank, receiving at one time five prizes, among which was the Franklin, then the only gold medal awarded in the school. He graduated from Harvard University at the age of nineteen, and shortly after was appointed master of the Roxbury Latin School—an appointment made by the committee in view of his scholarship, while in ignorance of the fact that he was under twenty years of age, the regulations of the school forbidding the appointment of any one who had not attained his majority. He retained this position for a year, at the end of which time he resigned, that he might pursue his studies in European universities. These occupied about four years, during which he formed friendships with the most eminent scientists of Europe, which lasted with many of them, such as Argelander, Gauss, and Humboldt, until the close of their lives.

Dr. Gould's study of astronomy was pursued under the learned Gauss and in the scientific courses at Paris, and in the observatory there, then under the direction of Arago. On returning to America he was employed to determine astronomically the various geodetic