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Chapter I.

Memory is the Mother of the Muses, the prototype of the Artist. As a rule she selects and relieves out the important, omitting what is accidental or trivial. Now and then, however, she makes mistakes like all other artists. Nevertheless I take Memory in the main as my guide.

I was born on the 14th of February 1855, and named James Thomas, after my father's two brothers: my father was in the Navy, a lieutenant in command of a revenue cutter or gunboat, and we children saw him only at long intervals.

My earliest recollection is being danced on the foot of my father's brother James, the Captain of an Indiaman, who paid us a visit in the south of Kerry when I was about two. I distinctly remember repeating a hymn by heart for him, my mother on the other side of the fireplace, prompting: then I got him to dance me a little more, which was all I wanted. I remember my mother telling him I could read, and his surprise.

The next memory must have been about the same time: I was seated on the floor screaming when my father came in and asked: "What's the matter?"

"It's only Master Jim", replied the nurse crossly,