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An Enemy of the People
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(SCENE.—The editorial office of the "People's Messenger." The
entrance door is on the left-hand side of the back wall; on the
right-hand side is another door with glass panels through which
the printing room can be seen. Another door in the right-hand
wall. In the middle of the room is a large table covered with
papers, newspapers and books. In the foreground on the left a
window, before which stands a desk and a high stool. There are a
couple of easy chairs by the table, and other chairs standing
along the wall. The room is dingy and uncomfortable; the
furniture is old, the chairs stained and torn. In the printing
room the compositors are seen at work, and a printer is working a
handpress. HOVSTAD is sitting at the desk, writing. BILLING
comes in from the right with DR. STOCKMANN'S manuscript in his
Billing. Well, I must say!
Hovstad (still writing). Have you read it through?
Billing (laying the MS. on the desk). Yes, indeed I have.
Hovstad. Don't you think the Doctor hits them pretty hard?
Billing. Hard? Bless my soul, he's crushing! Every word falls
like—how shall I put it?—like the blow of a sledgehammer.
Hovstad. Yes, but they are not the people to throw up the sponge
at the first blow.
Billing. That is true; and for that reason we must strike blow
upon blow until the whole of this aristocracy tumbles to pieces.
As I sat in there reading this, I almost seemed to see a
revolution in being.
Hovstad (turning round). Hush!—Speak so that Aslaksen cannot
hear you.
Billing (lowering his voice). Aslaksen is a chicken-hearted chap,
a coward; there is nothing of the man in him. But this time you
will insist on your own way, won't you? You will put the Doctor's
article in?
Hovstad. Yes, and if the Mayor doesn't like it—
Billing. That will be the devil of a nuisance.
Hovstad. Well, fortunately we can turn the situation to good
account, whatever happens. If the Mayor will not fall in with the
Doctor's project, he will have all the small tradesmen down on
him—the whole of the Householders' Association and the rest of
them. And if he does fall in with it, he will fall out with the
whole crowd of large shareholders in the Baths, who up to now
have been his most valuable supporters—
Billing. Yes, because they will certainly have to fork out a
pretty penny—
Hovstad. Yes, you may be sure they will. And in this way the ring
will be broken up, you see, and then in every issue of the paper
we will enlighten the public on the Mayor's incapability on one
point and another, and make it clear that all the positions of
trust in the town, the whole control of municipal affairs, ought
to be put in the hands of the Liberals.
Billing. That is perfectly true! I see it coming—I see it
coming; we are on the threshold of a revolution!
(A knock is heard at the door.)
Hovstad. Hush! (Calls out.) Come in! (DR. STOCKMANN comes in by
the street door. HOVSTAD goes to meet him.) Ah, it is you,
Doctor! Well?
Dr. Stockmann. You may set to work and print it, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Has it come to that, then?
Billing. Hurrah!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, print away. Undoubtedly it has come to that.
Now they must take what they get. There is going to be a fight in
the town, Mr. Billing!
Billing. War to the knife, I hope! We will get our knives to
their throats, Doctor!
Dr. Stockmann. This article is only a beginning. I have already
got four or five more sketched out in my head. Where is Aslaksen?
Billing (calls into the printing-room). Aslaksen, just come here
for a minute!
Hovstad. Four or five more articles, did you say? On the same
Dr. Stockmann. No—far from it, my dear fellow. No, they are
about quite another matter. But they all spring from the question
of the water supply and the drainage. One thing leads to another,
you know. It is like beginning to pull down an old house,
Billing. Upon my soul, it's true; you find you are not done till
you have pulled all the old rubbish down.
Aslaksen (coming in). Pulled down? You are not thinking of
pulling down the Baths surely, Doctor?
Hovstad. Far from it, don't be afraid.
Dr. Stockmann. No, we meant something quite different. Well, what
do you think of my article, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. I think it is simply a masterpiece.
Dr. Stockmann. Do you really think so? Well, I am very pleased,
very pleased.
Hovstad. It is so clear and intelligible. One need have no
special knowledge to understand the bearing of it. You will have
every enlightened man on your side.
Aslaksen. And every prudent man too, I hope?
Billing. The prudent and the imprudent—almost the whole town.
Aslaksen. In that case we may venture to print it.
Dr. Stockmann. I should think so!
Hovstad. We will put it in tomorrow morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course—you must not lose a single day. What I
wanted to ask you, Mr. Aslaksen, was if you would supervise the
printing of it yourself.
Aslaksen. With pleasure.
Dr. Stockmann. Take care of it as if it were a treasure! No
misprints—every word is important. I will look in again a little
later; perhaps you will be able to let me see a proof. I can't
tell you how eager I am to see it in print, and see it burst upon
the public—
Billing. Burst upon them—yes, like a flash of lightning!
Dr. Stockmann.—and to have it submitted to the judgment of my
intelligent fellow townsmen. You cannot imagine what I have gone
through today. I have been threatened first with one thing and
then with another; they have tried to rob me of my most
elementary rights as a man—
Billing. What! Your rights as a man!
Dr. Stockmann.—they have tried to degrade me, to make a coward
of me, to force me to put personal interests before my most
sacred convictions.
Billing. That is too much—I'm damned if it isn't.
Hovstad. Oh, you mustn't be surprised at anything from that
Dr. Stockmann. Well, they will get the worst of it with me; they
may assure themselves of that. I shall consider the "People's
Messenger" my sheet-anchor now, and every single day I will
bombard them with one article after another, like bombshells—
Aslaksen. Yes, but
Billing. Hurrah!—it is war, it is war!
Dr. Stockmann. I shall smite them to the ground—I shall crush
them—I shall break down all their defenses, before the eyes of
the honest public! That is what I shall do!
Aslaksen, Yes, but in moderation, Doctor—proceed with
Billing. Not a bit of it, not a bit of it! Don't spare the
Dr. Stockmann. Because it is not merely a question of water-
supply and drains now, you know. No—it is the whole of our
social life that we have got to purify and disinfect—
Billing. Spoken like a deliverer!
Dr. Stockmann. All the incapables must be turned out, you
understand—and that in every walk of life! Endless vistas have
opened themselves to my mind's eye today. I cannot see it all
quite clearly yet, but I shall in time. Young and vigorous
standard-bearers—those are what we need and must seek, my
friends; we must have new men in command at all our outposts.
Billing. Hear hear!
Dr. Stockmann. We only need to stand by one another, and it will
all be perfectly easy. The revolution will be launched like a
ship that runs smoothly off the stocks. Don't you think so?
Hovstad. For my part I think we have now a prospect of getting
the municipal authority into the hands where it should lie.
Aslaksen. And if only we proceed with moderation, I cannot
imagine that there will be any risk.
Dr. Stockmann. Who the devil cares whether there is any risk or
not! What I am doing, I am doing in the name of truth and for the
sake of my conscience.
Hovstad. You are a man who deserves to be supported, Doctor.
Aslaksen. Yes, there is no denying that the Doctor is a true
friend to the town—a real friend to the community, that he is.
Billing. Take my word for it, Aslaksen, Dr. Stockmann is a friend
of the people.
Aslaksen. I fancy the Householders' Association will make use of
that expression before long.
Dr. Stockmann (affected, grasps their hands). Thank you, thank
you, my dear staunch friends. It is very refreshing to me to hear
you say that; my brother called me something quite different. By
Jove, he shall have it back, with interest! But now I must be off
to see a poor devil—I will come back, as I said. Keep a very
careful eye on the manuscript, Aslaksen, and don't for worlds
leave out any of my notes of exclamation! Rather put one or two
more in! Capital, capital! Well, good-bye for the present—
goodbye, goodbye!
(They show him to the door, and bow him out.)
Hovstad. He may prove an invaluably useful man to us.
Aslaksen. Yes, so long as he confines himself to this matter of
the Baths. But if he goes farther afield, I don't think it would
be advisable to follow him.
Hovstad. Hm!—that all depends-
Billing. You are so infernally timid, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. Timid? Yes, when it is a question of the local
authorities, I am timid, Mr. Billing; it is a lesson I have
learned in the school of experience, let me tell you. But try me
in higher politics, in matters that concern the government
itself, and then see if I am timid.
Billing. No, you aren't, I admit. But this is simply
contradicting yourself.
Aslaksen. I am a man with a conscience, and that is the whole
matter. If you attack the government, you don't do the community
any harm, anyway; those fellows pay no attention to attacks, you
see—they go on just as they are, in spite of them. But local
authorities are different; they can be turned out, and then
perhaps you may get an ignorant lot into office who may do
irreparable harm to the householders and everybody else.
Hovstad. But what of the education of citizens by self
government—don't you attach any importance to that?
Aslaksen. When a man has interests of his own to protect, he
cannot think of everything, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Then I hope I shall never have interests of my own to
Billing. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen (with a smile). Hm! (Points to the desk.) Mr. Sheriff
Stensgaard was your predecessor at that editorial desk.
Billing (spitting). Bah! That turncoat.
Hovstad. I am not a weathercock—and never will be.
Aslaksen. A politician should never be too certain of anything,
Mr. Hovstad. And as for you, Mr. Billing, I should think it is
time for you to be taking in a reef or two in your sails, seeing
that you are applying for the post of secretary to the Bench.
Billing. I—!
Hovstad. Are you, Billing?
Billing. Well, yes—but you must clearly understand I am only
doing it to annoy the bigwigs.
Aslaksen. Anyhow, it is no business of mine. But if I am to be
accused of timidity and of inconsistency in my principles, this
is what I want to point out: my political past is an open book. I
have never changed, except perhaps to become a little more
moderate, you see. My heart is still with the people; but I don't
deny that my reason has a certain bias towards the authorities—
the local ones, I mean. (Goes into the printing room.)
Billing. Oughtn't we to try and get rid of him, Hovstad?
Hovstad. Do you know anyone else who will advance the money for
our paper and printing bill?
Billing. It is an infernal nuisance that we don't possess some
capital to trade on.
Hovstad (sitting down at his desk). Yes, if we only had that,
Billing. Suppose you were to apply to Dr. Stockmann?
Hovstad (turning over some papers). What is the use? He has got
Billing. No, but he has got a warm man in the background, old
Morten Kiil—"the Badger," as they call him.
Hovstad (writing). Are you so sure he has got anything?
Billing. Good Lord, of course he has! And some of it must come to
the Stockmanns. Most probably he will do something for the
children, at all events.
Hovstad (turning half round). Are you counting on that?
Billing. Counting on it? Of course I am not counting on anything.
Hovstad. That is right. And I should not count on the
secretaryship to the Bench either, if I were you; for I can
assure you—you won't get it.
Billing. Do you think I am not quite aware of that? My object is
precisely not to get it. A slight of that kind stimulates a man's
fighting power—it is like getting a supply of fresh bile—and I
am sure one needs that badly enough in a hole-and-corner place
like this, where it is so seldom anything happens to stir one up.
Hovstad (writing). Quite so, quite so.
Billing. Ah, I shall be heard of yet!—Now I shall go and write
the appeal to the Householders' Association. (Goes into the room
on the right.)
Hovstad (sitting al his desk, biting his penholder, says slowly).
Hm!—that's it, is it. (A knock is heard.) Come in! (PETRA comes
in by the outer door. HOVSTAD gets up.) What, you!—here?
Petra. Yes, you must forgive me—
Hovstad (pulling a chair forward). Won't you sit down?
Petra. No, thank you; I must go again in a moment.
Hovstad. Have you come with a message from your father, by any
Petra. No, I have come on my own account. (Takes a book out of
her coat pocket.) Here is the English story.
Hovstad. Why have you brought it back?
Petra. Because I am not going to translate it.
Hovstad. But you promised me faithfully.
Petra. Yes, but then I had not read it, I don't suppose you have
read it either?
Hovstad. No, you know quite well I don't understand English;
Petra. Quite so. That is why I wanted to tell you that you must
find something else. (Lays the book on the table.) You can't use
this for the "People's Messenger."
Hovstad. Why not?
Petra. Because it conflicts with all your opinions.
Hovstad. Oh, for that matter—
Petra. You don't understand me. The burden of this story is that
there is a supernatural power that looks after the so-called good
people in this world and makes everything happen for the best in
their case—while all the so-called bad people are punished.
Hovstad. Well, but that is all right. That is just what our
readers want.
Petra. And are you going to be the one to give it to them? For
myself, I do not believe a word of it. You know quite well that
things do not happen so in reality.
Hovstad. You are perfectly right; but an editor cannot always act
as he would prefer. He is often obliged to bow to the wishes of
the public in unimportant matters. Politics are the most
important thing in life—for a newspaper, anyway; and if I want
to carry my public with me on the path that leads to liberty and
progress, I must not frighten them away. If they find a moral
tale of this sort in the serial at the bottom of the page, they
will be all the more ready to read what is printed above it; they
feel more secure, as it were.
Petra. For shame! You would never go and set a snare like that
for your readers; you are not a spider!
Hovstad (smiling). Thank you for having such a good opinion of
me. No; as a matter of fact that is Billing's idea and not mine.
Petra. Billing's!
Hovstad. Yes; anyway, he propounded that theory here one day. And
it is Billing who is so anxious to have that story in the paper;
I don't know anything about the book.
Petra. But how can Billing, with his emancipated views—
Hovstad. Oh, Billing is a many-sided man. He is applying for the
post of secretary to the Bench, too, I hear.
Petra. I don't believe it, Mr. Hovstad. How could he possibly
bring himself to do such a thing?
Hovstad. Ah, you must ask him that.
Petra. I should never have thought it of him.
Hovstad (looking more closely at her). No? Does it really
surprise you so much?
Petra. Yes. Or perhaps not altogether. Really, I don't quite know
Hovstad. We journalists are not much worth, Miss Stockmann.
Petra. Do you really mean that?
Hovstad. I think so sometimes.
Petra. Yes, in the ordinary affairs of everyday life, perhaps; I
can understand that. But now, when you have taken a weighty
matter in hand—
Hovstad. This matter of your father's, you mean?
Petra. Exactly. It seems to me that now you must feel you are a
man worth more than most.
Hovstad. Yes, today I do feel something of that sort.
Petra. Of course you do, don't you? It is a splendid vocation you
have chosen—to smooth the way for the march of unappreciated
truths, and new and courageous lines of thought. If it were
nothing more than because you stand fearlessly in the open and
take up the cause of an injured man—
Hovstad. Especially when that injured man is—ahem!—I don't
rightly know how to—
Petra. When that man is so upright and so honest, you mean?
Hovstad (more gently). Especially when he is your father I meant.
Petra (suddenly checked). That?
Hovstad. Yes, Petra—Miss Petra.
Petra. Is it that, that is first and foremost with you? Not the
matter itself? Not the truth?—not my father's big generous
Hovstad. Certainly—of course—that too.
Petra. No, thank you; you have betrayed yourself, Mr. Hovstad,
and now I shall never trust you again in anything.
Hovstad. Can you really take it so amiss in me that it is mostly
for your sake—?
Petra. What I am angry with you for, is for not having been
honest with my father. You talked to him as if the truth and the
good of the community were what lay nearest to your heart. You
have made fools of both my father and me. You are not the man you
made yourself out to be. And that I shall never forgive you-
Hovstad. You ought not to speak so bitterly, Miss Petra—least of
all now.
Petra. Why not now, especially?
Hovstad. Because your father cannot do without my help.
Petra (looking him up and down). Are you that sort of man too?
For shame!
Hovstad. No, no, I am not. This came upon me so unexpectedly—you
must believe that.
Petra. I know what to believe. Goodbye.
Aslaksen (coming from the printing room, hurriedly and with an
air of mystery). Damnation, Hovstad!—(Sees PETRA.) Oh, this is
Petra. There is the book; you must give it to some one else.
(Goes towards the door.)
Hovstad (following her). But, Miss Stockmann—
Petra. Goodbye. (Goes out.)
Aslaksen. I say—Mr, Hovstad—
Hovstad. Well well!—what is it?
Aslaksen. The Mayor is outside in the printing room.
Hovstad. The Mayor, did you say?
Aslaksen. Yes he wants to speak to you. He came in by the back
door—didn't want to be seen, you understand.
Hovstad. What can he want? Wait a bit—I will go myself. (Goes to
the door of the printing room, opens it, bows and invites PETER
STOCKMANN in.) Just see, Aslaksen, that no one—
Aslaksen. Quite so. (Goes into the printing-room.)
Peter Stockmann. You did not expect to see me here, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. No, I confess I did not.
Peter Stockmann (looking round). You are very snug in here—very
nice indeed.
Hovstad. Oh—
Peter Stockmann. And here I come, without any notice, to take up
your time!
Hovstad. By all means, Mr. Mayor. I am at your service. But let
me relieve you of your—(takes STOCKMANN's hat and stick and puts
them on a chair). Won't you sit down?
Peter Stockmann (sitting down by the table). Thank you. (HOVSTAD
sits down.) I have had an extremely annoying experience to-day,
Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Really? Ah well, I expect with all the various business
you have to attend to—
Peter Stockmann. The Medical Officer of the Baths is responsible
for what happened today.
Hovstad. Indeed? The Doctor?
Peter Stockmann. He has addressed a kind of report to the Baths
Committee on the subject of certain supposed defects in the
Hovstad. Has he indeed?
Peter Stockmann. Yes—has he not told you? I thought he said—
Hovstad. Ah, yes—it is true he did mention something about—
Aslaksen (coming from the printing-room). I ought to have that
Hovstad (angrily). Ahem!—there it is on the desk.
Aslaksen (taking it). Right.
Peter Stockmann. But look there—that is the thing I was speaking
Aslaksen. Yes, that is the Doctor's article, Mr. Mayor.
Hovstad. Oh, is THAT what you were speaking about?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, that is it. What do you think of it?
Hovstad. Oh, I am only a layman—and I have only taken a very
cursory glance at it.
Peter Stockmann. But you are going to print it?
Hovstad. I cannot very well refuse a distinguished man.
Aslaksen. I have nothing to do with editing the paper, Mr.
Peter Stockmann. I understand.
Aslaksen. I merely print what is put into my hands.
Peter Stockmann. Quite so.
Aslaksen. And so I must—(moves off towards the printing-room).
Peter Stockmann. No, but wait a moment, Mr. Aslaksen. You will
allow me, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. If you please, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. You are a discreet and thoughtful man, Mr.
Aslaksen. I am delighted to hear you think so, sir.
Peter Stockmann. And a man of very considerable influence.
Aslaksen. Chiefly among the small tradesmen, sir.
Peter Stockmann. The small tax-payers are the majority—here as
everywhere else.
Aslaksen. That is true.
Peter Stockmann. And I have no doubt you know the general trend
of opinion among them, don't you?
Aslaksen. Yes I think I may say I do, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. Yes. Well, since there is such a praiseworthy
spirit of self-sacrifice among the less wealthy citizens of our
Aslaksen. What?
Hovstad. Self-sacrifice?
Peter Stockmann. It is pleasing evidence of a public-spirited
feeling, extremely pleasing evidence. I might almost say I hardly
expected it. But you have a closer knowledge of public opinion
than I.
Aslaksen. But, Mr. Mayor-
Peter Stockmann. And indeed it is no small sacrifice that the
town is going to make.
Hovstad. The town?
Aslaksen. But I don't understand. Is it the Baths—?
Peter Stockmann. At a provisional estimate, the alterations that
the Medical Officer asserts to be desirable will cost somewhere
about twenty thousand pounds.
Aslaksen. That is a lot of money, but—
Peter Stockmann. Of course it will be necessary to raise a
municipal loan.
Hovstad (getting up). Surely you never mean that the town must
Aslaksen. Do you mean that it must come out of the municipal
funds?—out of the ill-filled pockets of the small tradesmen?
Peter Stockmann. Well, my dear Mr. Aslaksen, where else is the
money to come from?
Aslaksen. The gentlemen who own the Baths ought to provide that.
Peter Stockmann. The proprietors of the Baths are not in a
position to incur any further expense.
Aslaksen. Is that absolutely certain, Mr. Mayor?
Peter Stockmann. I have satisfied myself that it is so. If the
town wants these very extensive alterations, it will have to pay
for them.
Aslaksen. But, damn it all—I beg your pardon—this is quite
another matter, Mr, Hovstad!
Hovstad. It is, indeed.
Peter Stockmann. The most fatal part of it is that we shall be
obliged to shut the Baths for a couple of years.
Hovstad. Shut them? Shut them altogether?
Aslaksen. For two years?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, the work will take as long as that—at
Aslaksen. I'm damned if we will stand that, Mr. Mayor! What are
we householders to live upon in the meantime?
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately, that is an extremely difficult
question to answer, Mr. Aslaksen. But what would you have us do?
Do you suppose we shall have a single visitor in the town, if we
go about proclaiming that our water is polluted, that we are
living over a plague spot, that the entire town—
Aslaksen. And the whole thing is merely imagination?
Peter Stockmann. With the best will in the world, I have not been
able to come to any other conclusion.
Aslaksen. Well then I must say it is absolutely unjustifiable of
Dr. Stockmann—I beg your pardon, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. What you say is lamentably true, Mr. Aslaksen.
My brother has unfortunately always been a headstrong man.
Aslaksen. After this, do you mean to give him your support, Mr.
Hovstad. Can you suppose for a moment that I—?
Peter Stockmann. I have drawn up a short resume of the situation
as it appears from a reasonable man's point of view. In it I have
indicated how certain possible defects might suitably be remedied
without outrunning the resources of the Baths Committee.
Hovstad. Have you got it with you, Mr. Mayor?
Peter Stockmann (fumbling in his pocket). Yes, I brought it with
me in case you should—
Aslaksen. Good Lord, there he is!
Peter Stockmann. Who? My brother?
Hovstad. Where? Where?
Aslaksen. He has just gone through the printing room.
Peter Stockmann. How unlucky! I don't want to meet him here, and
I had still several things to speak to you about.
Hovstad (pointing to the door on the right). Go in there for the
Peter Stockmann. But—?
Hovstad. You will only find Billing in there.
Aslaksen. Quick, quick, Mr. Mayor—he is just coming.
Peter Stockmann. Yes, very well; but see that you get rid of him
quickly. (Goes out through the door on the right, which ASLAKSEN
opens for him and shuts after him.)
Hovstad. Pretend to be doing something, Aslaksen. (Sits down and
writes. ASLAKSEN begins foraging among a heap of newspapers that
are lying on a chair.)
Dr. Stockmann (coming in from the printing room). Here I am
again. (Puts down his hat and stick.)
Hovstad (writing). Already, Doctor? Hurry up with what we were
speaking about, Aslaksen. We are very pressed for time today.
Dr. Stockmann (to ASLAKSEN). No proof for me to see yet, I hear.
Aslaksen (without turning round). You couldn't expect it yet,
Dr. Stockmann. No, no; but I am impatient, as you can understand.
I shall not know a moment's peace of mind until I see it in
Hovstad. Hm!—It will take a good while yet, won't it, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. Yes, I am almost afraid it will.
Dr. Stockmann. All right, my dear friends; I will come back. I do
not mind coming back twice if necessary. A matter of such great
importance—the welfare of the town at stake—it is no time to
shirk trouble, (is just going, but stops and comes back.) Look
here—there is one thing more I want to speak to you about.
Hovstad. Excuse me, but could it not wait till some other time?
Dr. Stockmann. I can tell you in half a dozen words. It is only
this. When my article is read tomorrow and it is realised that I
have been quietly working the whole winter for the welfare of the
Hovstad. Yes but, Doctor—
Dr. Stockmann. I know what you are going to say. You don't see
how on earth it was any more than my duty—my obvious duty as a
citizen. Of course it wasn't; I know that as well as you. But my
fellow citizens, you know—! Good Lord, think of all the good
souls who think so highly of me—!
Aslaksen. Yes, our townsfolk have had a very high opinion of you
so far, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and that is just why I am afraid they—.
Well, this is the point; when this reaches them, especially the
poorer classes, and sounds in their ears like a summons to take
the town's affairs into their own hands for the future...
Hovstad (getting up). Ahem I Doctor, I won't conceal from you the
Dr. Stockmann. Ah I—I knew there was something in the wind! But
I won't hear a word of it. If anything of that sort is being set
on foot—
Hovstad. Of what sort?
Dr. Stockmann. Well, whatever it is—whether it is a
demonstration in my honour, or a banquet, or a subscription list
for some presentation to me—whatever it is, you most promise me
solemnly and faithfully to put a stop to it. You too, Mr.
Aslaksen; do you understand?
Hovstad. You must forgive me, Doctor, but sooner or later we must
tell you the plain truth—
(He is interrupted by the entrance Of MRS. STOCKMANN, who comes
in from the street door.)
Mrs. Stockmann (seeing her husband). Just as I thought!
Hovstad (going towards her). You too, Mrs. Stockmann?
Dr. Stockmann. What on earth do you want here, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. I should think you know very well what I want.
Hovstad, Won't you sit down? Or perhaps—
Mrs. Stockmann. No, thank you; don't trouble. And you must not be
offended at my coming to fetch my husband; I am the mother of
three children, you know.
Dr. Stockmann. Nonsense!—we know all about that.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, one would not give you credit for much
thought for your wife and children today; if you had had that,
you would not have gone and dragged us all into misfortune.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you out of your senses, Katherine! Because a
man has a wife and children, is he not to he allowed to proclaim
the truth-is he not to be allowed to be an actively useful
citizen—is he not to be allowed to do a service to his native
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, Thomas—in reason.
Aslaksen. Just what I say. Moderation in everything.
Mrs. Stockmann. And that is why you wrong us, Mr. Hovstad, in
enticing my husband away from his home and making a dupe of him
in all this.
Hovstad. I certainly am making a dupe of no one—
Dr. Stockmann. Making a dupe of me! Do you suppose I should allow
myself to be duped!
Mrs. Stockmann. It is just what you do. I know quite well you
have more brains than anyone in the town, but you are extremely
easily duped, Thomas. (To Hovstad.) Please do realise that he
loses his post at the Baths if you print what he has written.
Aslaksen. What!
Hovstad. Look here, Doctor!
Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Ha-ha!—just let them try! No, no—they
will take good care not to. I have got the compact majority
behind me, let me tell you!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is just the worst of it—your having
any such horrid thing behind you.
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish, Katherine!—Go home and look after your
house and leave me to look after the community. How can you be so
afraid, when I am so confident and happy? (Walks up and down,
rubbing his hands.) Truth and the People will win the fight, you
may be certain! I see the whole of the broad-minded middle class
marching like a victorious army—! (Stops beside a chair.) What
the deuce is that lying there?
Aslaksen Good Lord!
Hovstad. Ahem!
Dr. Stockmann. Here we have the topmost pinnacle of authority!
(Takes the Mayor's official hat carefully between his finger-tips
and holds it up in the air.)
Mrs. Stockmann. The Mayor's hat!
Dr. Stockmann. And here is the staff of office too. How in the
name of all that's wonderful—?
Hovstad. Well, you see—
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I understand. He has been here trying to talk
you over. Ha-ha!—he made rather a mistake there! And as soon as
he caught sight of me in the printing room. (Bursts out
laughing.) Did he run away, Mr. Aslaksen?
Aslaksen (hurriedly). Yes, he ran away, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Ran away without his stick or his—. Fiddlesticks!
Peter doesn't run away and leave his belongings behind him. But
what the deuce have you done with him? Ah!—in there, of course.
Now you shall see, Katherine!
Mrs. Stockmann. Thomas—please don't—!
Aslaksen. Don't be rash, Doctor.
(DR. STOCKMANN has put on the Mayor's hat and taken his stick in
his hand. He goes up to the door, opens it, and stands with his
hand to his hat at the salute. PETER STOCKMANN comes in, red with
anger. BILLING follows him.)
Peter Stockmann. What does this tomfoolery mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Be respectful, my good Peter. I am the chief
authority in the town now. (Walks up and down.)
Mrs. Stockmann (almost in tears). Really, Thomas!
Peter Stockmann (following him about). Give me my hat and stick.
Dr. Stockmann (in the same tone as before). If you are chief
constable, let me tell you that I am the Mayor—I am the master
of the whole town, please understand!
Peter Stockmann. Take off my hat, I tell you. Remember it is part
of an official uniform.
Dr. Stockmann. Pooh! Do you think the newly awakened lionhearted
people are going to be frightened by an official hat? There is
going to be a revolution in the town tomorrow, let me tell you.
You thought you could turn me out; but now I shall turn you out—
turn you out of all your various offices. Do you think I cannot?
Listen to me. I have triumphant social forces behind me. Hovstad
and Billing will thunder in the "People's Messenger," and
Aslaksen will take the field at the head of the whole
Householders' Association—
Aslaksen. That I won't, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course you will—
Peter Stockmann. Ah!—may I ask then if Mr. Hovstad intends to
join this agitation?
Hovstad. No, Mr. Mayor.
Aslaksen. No, Mr. Hovstad is not such a fool as to go and ruin
his paper and himself for the sake of an imaginary grievance.
Dr. Stockmann (looking round him). What does this mean?
Hovstad. You have represented your case in a false light, Doctor,
and therefore I am unable to give you my support.
Billing. And after what the Mayor was so kind as to tell me just
now, I—
Dr. Stockmann. A false light! Leave that part of it to me. Only
print my article; I am quite capable of defending it.
Hovstad. I am not going to print it. I cannot and will not and
dare not print it.
Dr. Stockmann. You dare not? What nonsense!—you are the editor;
and an editor controls his paper, I suppose!
Aslaksen. No, it is the subscribers, Doctor.
Peter Stockmann. Fortunately, yes.
Aslaksen. It is public opinion—the enlightened public—
householders and people of that kind; they control the
Dr. Stockmann (composedly). And I have all these influences
against me?
Aslaksen. Yes, you have. It would mean the absolute ruin of the
community if your article were to appear.
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed.
Peter Stockmann. My hat and stick, if you please. (DR. STOCKMANN
takes off the hat and lays it on the table with the stick. PETER
STOCKMANN takes them up.) Your authority as mayor has come to an
untimely end.
Dr. Stockmann. We have not got to the end yet. (To HOVSTAD.) Then
it is quite impossible for you to print my article in the
"People's Messenger"?
Hovstad. Quite impossible—out of regard for your family as well.
Mrs. Stockmann. You need not concern yourself about his family,
thank you, Mr. Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann (taking a paper from his pocket). It will be
sufficient, for the guidance of the public, if this appears. It
is an official statement. May I trouble you?
Hovstad (taking the paper). Certainly; I will see that it is
Dr. Stockmann. But not mine. Do you imagine that you can silence
me and stifle the truth! You will not find it so easy as you
suppose. Mr. Aslaksen, kindly take my manuscript at once and
print it as a pamphlet—at my expense. I will have four hundred
copies—no, five or six hundred.
Aslaksen. If you offered me its weight in gold, I could not lend
my press for any such purpose, Doctor. It would be flying in the
face of public opinion. You will not get it printed anywhere in
the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Then give it me back.
Hovstad (giving him the MS.). Here it is.
Dr. Stockmann (taking his hat and stick). It shall be made public
all the same. I will read it out at a mass meeting of the
townspeople. All my fellow-citizens shall hear the voice of
Peter Stockmann. You will not find any public body in the town
that will give you the use of their hall for such a purpose.
Aslaksen. Not a single one, I am certain.
Billing. No, I'm damned if you will find one.
Mrs. Stockmann. But this is too shameful! Why should every one
turn against you like that?
Dr. Stockmann (angrily). I will tell you why. It is because all
the men in this town are old women—like you; they all think of
nothing but their families, and never of the community.
Mrs. Stockmann (putting her arm into his). Then I will show them
that an old woman can be a man for once. I am going to stand
by you, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Bravely said, Katherine! It shall be made public—
as I am a living soul! If I can't hire a hall, I shall hire a
drum, and parade the town with it and read it at every street-
Peter Stockmann. You are surely not such an errant fool as that!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I am.
Aslaksen. You won't find a single man in the whole town to go
with you.
Billing. No, I'm damned if you will.
Mrs. Stockmann. Don't give in, Thomas. I will tell the boys to go
with you.
Dr. Stockmann. That is a splendid idea!
Mrs. Stockmann. Morten will be delighted; and Ejlif will do
whatever he does.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and Petra!—and you too, Katherine!
Mrs. Stockmann. No, I won't do that; but I will stand at the
window and watch you, that's what I will do.
Dr. Stockmann (puts his arms round her and kisses her). Thank
you, my dear! Now you and I are going to try a fall, my fine
gentlemen! I am going to see whether a pack of cowards can
succeed in gagging a patriot who wants to purify society! (He and
his wife go out by the street door.)
Peter Stockmann (shaking his head seriously). Now he has sent her
out of her senses, too.
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