It was Benjamin Apthorp Gould's dedication to "the advancement of science" and original research that brought him into the exclusive circle of Lazzaroni; his conviviality, too, and generosity toward his friends made him particularly acceptable to a group marked as much for their high spirits as for their high aims. But his arrogance with respect to his scientific mission--an arrogance that marked other Lazzaroni members as well--and his insistence that scientists be permitted to "labor in those fields for which they are best adapted" without any interference from the community not only frustrated the Lazzaroni cause, but, ironically, prevented progress in gaining the public support for pure research that the Lazzaroni hoped to obtain.
Gould was born into a cultivated mercantile family--his father had been principal of Boston Latin School for fourteen years before retiring to become a merchant in the Calcutta trade--and he moved with ease among the distinguished and wealthy societies of Boston and Cambridge, an ease which his brilliance at Harvard merely accentuated. From the day he became Benjamin Peirce's star mathematics student and protégé to the day he returned from Berlin and Göttingen boasting a German doctorate, Gould was destined for success. Upon his return from Europe, he founded the Astronomical Journal ( 1849), modeled closely after similar German publications, which he edited and managed until the Civil War forced a temporary end to its publication. Typically, the journal was designed for professional astronomers, not for the general public, and Gould made no effort to make it popular. In 1852 he became head of the longitude department of the Coast Survey, with headquarters at the Harvard Observatory in Cambridge. Here he was frequently joined by Peirce, who acted as consultant to the Coast Survey, and Peirce's brother-in-law, Lieutenant Charles Henry Davis, editor of the Nautical Almanac. The three men, all operating with Coast Survey funds, were instrumental in making