New York

_All rights reserved_


Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1912.


When I wrote the essay on Edmund Spenser the company of Irish players
who have now their stage at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin had been
founded, but gave as yet few performances in a twelvemonth. I could let
my thought stray where it would, and even give a couple of summers to
_The Faerie Queene_; while for some ten years now I have written little
verse and no prose that did not arise out of some need of those players
or some thought suggested by their work, or was written in the defence
of some friend whose life has been a part of the movement of events
which is creating a new Ireland unintelligible to an old Ireland that
watches with anger or indifference. The detailed defence of plays and
players, published originally in _Samhain_, the occasional periodical of
the theatre, and now making some three hundred pages of Mr. Bullen’s
collected edition of my writings, is not here, but for the most part an
exposition of principles, whether suggested by my own work or by the
death of friend or fellow-worker, that, intended for no great public,
has been printed and published from a Hand Press which my sisters manage
at Dundrum with the help of the village girls. I have been busy with a
single art, that of the theatre, of a small, unpopular theatre; and this
art may well seem to practical men, busy with some programme of
industrial or political regeneration, of no more account than the
shaping of an agate; and yet in the shaping of an agate, whether in the
cutting or the making of the design, one discovers, if one have a
speculative mind, thoughts that seem important and principles that may
be applied to life itself, and certainly if one does not believe so, one
is but a poor cutter of so hard a stone.


By Augustine Birrell

‚An _obiter dictum_, in the language of the law, is
a gratuitous opinion, an individual impertinence, which,
whether it be wise or foolish, right or wrong, bindeth
none--not even the lips that utter it.‘



_This seems a very little book to introduce to so large a continent. No
such enterprise would ever have suggested itself to the home-keeping
mind of the Author, who, none the less, when this edition was proposed
to him by Messrs. Scribner on terms honorable to them and grateful
to him, found the notion of being read in America most fragrant and

London, February 13, 1885._


The accomplishments of our race have of late become so varied, that it
is often no easy task to assign him whom we would judge to his proper
station among men; and yet, until this has been done, the guns of
our criticism cannot be accurately levelled, and as a consequence the
greater part of our fire must remain futile. He, for example, who would
essay to take account of Mr. Gladstone, must read much else besides
Hansard; he must brush up his Homer, and set himself to acquire some
theology. The place of Greece in the providential order of the world,
and of laymen in the Church of England, must be considered, together
with a host of other subjects of much apparent irrelevance to a
statesman’s life. So too in the case of his distinguished rival,
whose death eclipsed the gaiety of politics and banished epigram from
Parliament: keen must be the critical faculty which can nicely discern
where the novelist ended and the statesman began in Benjamin Disraeli.

„Obliged by hunger and request of friends,“

I can imagine myself printing under that classic excuse, which has the
merit of being in the grand literary tradition and as disingenuous as
another; for in these days an author is not more hungry than every one
else, and my friends would have been the first to pardon my silence. You
may take it for certain, by the way, that when a man says he is
publishing at the instance of two or three friends he means that he is
offering the public what he knows that the public could have done
perfectly well without. He means that he is printing neither to persuade
nor to inform nor yet to express the truth that is in him, but simply to
gratify an itch for such notoriety as the careless attention of a few
thousand readers may be supposed to give. If I now contrive to escape
the consequences of my own axiom it is thanks to you, My Publisher--or
Publisher’s representative must I say? (You are so very modest, my dear
Whitworth, and so exact.) Naturally, by so obliging me you have made me
your friend for life. But that was _ex post facto_.

Masjid Shah Faisal

The Faisal Mosque (also known as Shah Faisal Masjid) is a very large and very unique mosque in Islamabad, completed in 1986. Designed by a Turkish architect who won an international competition for the honor, Faisal Mosque is shaped like a desert Bedouin’s tent and functions as the national mosque of Pakistan.

King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia both suggested (in 1966) and largely funded the Faisal Mosque, which is named in his honor.

Ever since its conception, the mosque has been regarded as the national mosque of Pakistan, and as such it symbolizes the hopes and aspirations of the new nation.

The architect was Vedat Dalokay of Turkey, whose design was chosen in 1969 after an international competition. Constructed was completed in 1986.