A large old-fashioned room in CAPTAIN HORSTER'S house. An open folding-door in the background leads to an ante-room. Three windows, left. About the middle of the opposite wall is a small platform seat, and on it a small table, two candles, a bottle of water, and a bell. The rest of the room is lighted by sconces placed between the windows. Left, near the front of the stage, is a table with a light on it, and by it a chair. In front, to the right, a door, and near it a few chairs. Large meeting of all classes of townsfolk. In the crowd are a few women and school-boys. More and more people stream in, until the room is quite full.
1st Citizen [to another standing near him]. So you're here too, Lamstad?
2nd Citizen. I always go to every meeting.
A Bystander. I suppose you've brought your whistle?
2nd Citizen. Of course I have; haven't you?
3rd Citizen. Rather. And Skipper Evensen said he should bring a great big horn.
2nd Citizen. What a fellow that Evensen is! [Laughter among the groups of Citizens.]
4th Citizen [joining them.] I say, what's it all about? What's going on here to-night?
2nd Citizen. Why, it's Dr. Stockmann who is going to give a lecture against the Burgomaster.
4th Citizen. But the Burgomaster's his brother.
1st Citizen. That doesn't matter. Dr. Stockmann isn't afraid, he isn't.
3rd Citizen. But he's all wrong; they said so in the People's Messenger.
2nd Citizen. Yes, he must be wrong this time, for neither the Householders' Association nor the Citizens' Club would let him have a hall.
1st Citizen. They wouldn't even let him have a hall at the Baths.
2nd Citizen. No, you may be sure they wouldn't.
A Man [in another group]. Now, whom are we to go with in this affair? Hm!
Another Man [in the same group]. You just stick to Printer Aslaksen, and do what he does.
Billing. [with a portfolio writing-case under his arm, makes his way through the crowd]. Excuse me, gentlemen. Will you allow me to pass? I am going to report for the Messenger. A thousand thanks.
[Sits by table L.]
A Working-man. Who's he?
Another Working-man. Don't you know him? That's Billing, who writes for Aslaksen's paper.
[CAPTAIN HORSTER enters, leaning in MRS. STOCKMANN and PETRA by the right-hand door. EJLIF and MORTEN follow them.]
Horster. I think you'll all be comfortable here. You can easily slip out if anything should happen.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think there will be any trouble?
Horster. One can never tell–with such a crowd. But do sit down, and don't be anxious.
Mrs. Stockmann [sitting down]. Ah! it was good of you to let Stockmann have this room.
Horster. Well, as no one else would, I–
Petra [who has also seated herself]. And it was brave too, Horster.
Horster. Shouldn't think it needed much courage.
[HOVSTAD and ASLAKSEN enter at the same moment, but make their way through the crowd separately.]
Aslaksen. [going towards Horster]. Hasn't the doctor come yet?
Horster. He's waiting in there.
[Movement at the door in the background] Hovstad. [to Billing]. There's the Burgomaster, look!
Billing. Yes, God bless me, if he has'nt come to the fore after all!
[BURGOMASTER STOCKMANN makes his way blandly through the meeting, bows politely, and stands by the wall L. Immediately after, DR. STOCKMANN enters from 1st R Entrance. He is carefully dressed in frock-coat and white waist-coat. Faint applause, met by a subdued hiss. Then silence.]
Dr. Stockmann [in a low tone]. Well, how do you feel, Katrine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! I am allright. [In a low voice.] Now do, for once, keep your temper, Thomas.
Dr Stockmann. Oh! I can control myself well enough, dear. [Looks at his watch, ascends the raised platform, and bows.] It is a quarter past the time, so I will begin. [Takes out his MS.]
Aslaksen. But I suppose a chairman must be elected first.
Dr. Stockmann. No; there's not the least necessity for that.
Several Gentlemen [shouting.] Yes, yes.
Burgomaster. I am also of opinion that a chairman should be elected.
Dr. Stockmann. But I have called this meeting to give a lecture, Peter!
Burgomaster. A lecture concerning the Baths may very possibly lead to divergence of opinion.
Several voices in the crowd. A chairman! a chairman!
Hovstad. The general desire of the meeting seems to be for a chairman.
Dr. Stockmann [controlling himself]. Very well, then; let the meeting have its will.
Aslaksen. Will not the Burgomaster take the chair?
Three Gentlemen [clapping.] Brave! Brave!
Burgomaster. For several reasons, which I am sure you will understand, I must decline But, fortunately, we have here in our midst one whom I think we all can accept. I allude to the president of the Householders' Association, Mr. Aslaksen.
Many Voices. Yes, yes! Long live Aslaksen! Three cheers for Aslaksen.
[DR. STOCKMANN takes his MS. and descends from the platform.]
Aslaksen. If I am called upon by the confidence of my fellow-citizens, I shall not be unwilling to–
[Applause and cheers. ASLAKSEN ascends the platform.]
Billing.[writing]. So-"Mr. Aslaksen was elected with acclamation–"
Aslaksen. And now, as I have been called to the chair, I take the liberty of saying a few brief words. I am a quiet peace-loving man; I am in favour of discreet moderation, and of–and of moderate discretion. That everyone who knows me, knows.
Many Voices. Yes, yes, Aslaksen! Aslaksen. I have learnt in the school of life and of experience that moderation is the virtue which best becomes a citizen–
Burgomaster. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen. –and it is discretion and moderation, too, that best serve the community. I will therefore beg our respected fellow-citizen who has called this meeting to reflect upon this and to keep within the bounds of moderation.
A Man [by the door]. Three cheers for the Moderation Society.
A Voice. Go to the devil!
Voices. Hush! hush!
Aslaksen. No interruptions, gentlemen! Does anyone wish to offer any observations? Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman!
Aslaksen. Burgomaster Stockmann will address the meeting.
Burgomaster. In consideration of my close relationship–of which you are probably aware–to the gentleman who is at present medical officer to the Baths, I should very much have preferred not to speak here this evening. But the position I hold at the Baths, and my anxiety with regard to matters of the utmost importance to the town, force me to move a resolution. I may, no doubt, assume that not a single citizen here present thinks it desirable that unreliable and exaggerated statements, as to the sanitary condition of the Baths and the town, should be disseminated over a wider area.
Many Voices. No, no, certainly not, We protest.
Burgomaster. I therefore beg to move, "That this meeting refuses to hear the medical officer of the Baths either lecture or speak upon the subject."
Dr. Stockmann. [flaming up]. Refuses to hear–what nonsense! Mrs. Stockmann [coughing]. Hm! hm!
Dr. Stockmann [controlling himself]. Then I'm not to be heard.
Burgomaster. In my statement in the People's Messenger I have made the public acquainted with the most essential facts, so that all well-disposed citizens can easily draw their own conclusions. You will see from this that the medical officer's proposal–besides being a vote of censure against the leading men of the town–at bottom only means saddling the rate-paying inhabitants of the town with an unnecessary expense of at least a hundred thousand crowns.
[Noise and some hissing.]
Aslaksen [ringing the bell]. Order, gentlemen! I must take the liberty of supporting the Burgomaster's resolution. It is also my opinion there is something beneath the surface of the doctor's agitation. He speaks of the Baths, but it is a revolution he is trying to bring about; he wants to place the municipal government of the town in other hands. No one doubts the intentions of Dr. Stockmann–God forbid! there can't be two opinions as to that. I, too, am in favour of self-government by the people, if only the cost do not fall too heavily upon the ratepayers. But in this case it would do so, and for this reason I–d–n it all–I beg your pardon–I cannot go with Dr. Stockmann upon this occasion. You can buy even gold at too high a price; that's my opinion.
[Loud applause on all sides].
Hovstad.I also feel bound to explain my attitude. In the beginning, Dr. Stockmann's agitation found favour in several quarters, and I supported it as impartially as I could. But when we found we had allowed ourselves to be misled by a false statement–
Hovstad. Well, then, a somewhat unreliable statement. The Burgomaster's report has proved this. I trust no one here present doubts my liberal principles; the attitude of the Messenger on all great political questions is well known to you all. But I have learned from experienced and thoughtful men that in purely local matters a paper must observe a certain amount of caution.
Aslaksen. I quite agree with the speaker.
Hovstad. And in the matter under discussion it is evident that Dr. Stockmann has public opinion against him. But, gentlemen, what is the first and foremost duty of an editor? Is it not to work in harmony with his readers? Has he not in some sort received a silent mandate to further assiduously and unweariedly the well-being of his constituents? or am I mistaken in this?
Many Voices. No, no, no! Hovstad is right.
Hovstad. It has cost me a bitter struggle to break with a man in whose house I have of late been a frequent guest–with a man who up to this day has enjoyed the universal goodwill of his fellow-citizens–with a man whose only, or at any rate, whose chief fault is that he consults his heart rather than his head.
A few scattered voices. That's true! Three cheers for Dr. Stockmann.
Hovstad. But my duty towards the community has forced me to break with him. Then, too, there is another consideration that compels me to oppose him, to stay him if possible from the fatal descent upon which he is entering: consideration for his family–
Dr. Stockmann. Keep to the water-works and the sewers!
Hovstad.–consideration for his wife and his unprovided-for children.
Morten. Is that us, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. Hush!
Aslaksen. I will now put the Burgomaster's resolution to the vote.
Dr. Stockmann. It is not necessary. I haven't the slightest intention of speaking of all the filth at the Baths. No! You shall hear something quite different.
Burgomaster [aside]. What nonsense has he got hold of now?
A Drunken Man [at the main entrance]. I'm a duly qualified ratepayer! And so I've a right to my opinion! My full, firm opinion is that–
Several Voices. Silence, up there.
Others. He's drunk! Turn him out!
[The drunken man is put out.]
Dr. Stockmann. Can I speak?
Aslaksen [ringing the bell]. Dr. Stockmann will address the meeting.
Dr. Stockmann. I should have liked to see anyone, but a few days ago, dare to make such an attempt to gag me as has been made here to-night! I would then have fought like a lion in defence of my holiest rights as a man. But now all this is quite indifferent to me, for now I have more important things to speak of. [The people crowd closer round him. MORTEN KIIL is now seen among the bystanders. Dr. STOCKMANN continues.] During the last few days I have thought, reflected much, have pondered upon so many things, till, at last, my head seemed to be in a whirl–
Burgomaster [coughing]. Hm!
Dr. Stockmann –but then I began to see things clearly; then I saw to the very bottom of the whole matter. And that is why I stand here this evening. I am about to make a great revelation to you, fellow-citizens! I am going to disclose that to you which is of infinitely more moment than the unimportant fact that our water-works are poisonous, and that our Hygienic Baths are built upon a soil teeming with pestilence.
Many Voices [shouting]. Don't speak about the Baths! We won't listen to that! Shut up about that!
Dr. Stockmann. I have said I should speak of the great discovery I have made within the last few days–the discovery that all our spiritual sources of life are poisoned, and that our whole bourgeois society rests upon a soil teeming with the pestilence of lies.
Several Voices [in astonishment and half aloud]. What is he saying?
Burgomaster. Such an insinuation–
Aslaksen [with hand on bell]. I must call upon the speaker to moderate his expressions.
Dr. Stockmann. I have loved my native town as dearly as man could love the home of his childhood. I was not old when I left our town, and distance, privations, and memory threw, as it were, a strange glamour over the town and its people. [Same clapping and cheers of approval] Then for years I found myself stranded in an out-of-the-way corner in the north. Whenever I met any of the poor folk who lived there, hemmed in by rocks, it seemed to me, many a time, that it would have been better for these poor degraded creatures if they had had a cattle doctor to attend them instead of a man like me. [Murmurs in the room.]
Billing [laying down his pen]. God bless me! but I've never heard–
Hovstad.It is an insult to an estimable peasantry.
Dr. Stockmann. One moment! I do not think anyone can reproach me with forgetting my native town up there. I brooded over my eggs like an cider duck, and what I hatched–were plans for the Baths here. [Applause and interruptions.] And when, at last, after a long time, fate arranged all things so well and happily for me that I could come home again–then, fellow-citizens, it seemed to me that I hadn't another wish upon earth. Yes; I had the one ardent, constant, burning desire to be useful to the place of my birth, and to the people here.
Burgomaster [looking into vacancy]. The method is rather extraordinary–hm!
Dr. Stockmann. And when I came here I rejoiced blindly in my happy illusions. But yesterday morning–no, it was really two evenings ago–the eyes of my mind were opened wide, and the first thing I saw was the extraordinary stupidity of the authorities.
[Noise, cries, and laughter. MRS. STOCKMANN coughs zealously.] Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman!
Aslaksen. [ringing bell]. In virtue of my office–!
Dr. Stockmann. It is mean to catch me up on a word, Mr. Aslaksen. I only meant that I became aware of the extraordinary muddling of which the leading men have been guilty down there at the Baths. I detest lending men–I've seen enough of these gentry in my time. They are like goats in a young plantation: they do harm everywhere; they stand in the path of a free man wherever he turns–and I should be glad if we could exterminate them like other noxious animals–
[Uproar in the room.]
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman, can such an expression be permitted.
Aslaksen. [with one hand on shelf ]. Doctor Stockmann–!
Dr. Stockmann. I can't conceive how it is that I only now have seen through these gentry; for haven't I had a magnificent example before my eyes daily here in the town–my brother Peter–slow in grasping new ideas, tenacious in prejudice–
[Laughter, noise, and Whistling. MRS. STOCKMANN coughs. ASLAKSEN rings violently.]
The Drunken Man [who has come in again]. Do you mean me? Sure, enough, my name is Petersen, but d-n me if–
Angry Voices. Out with that drunken man. Turn him out.
[The man is again turned out]
Burgomaster. Who is that person?
A Bystander. I don't know him, Burgomaster.
Another. He doesn't belong to this town.
A third. Probably he's a loafer from– [The rest is inaudible.]
Aslaksen. The man was evidently intoxicated with Bavarian beer. Continue, Dr. Stockmann, but do strive to be moderate.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, fellow-citizens, I will say no more about our leading men. If anyone imagines, from what I have said here, that I want to exterminate these gentlemen to-night, he is mistaken–altogether mistaken. For I cherish the comforting belief that these laggards, these old remnants of a decaying world of thought, are doing this admirably for themselves. They need no doctor's help to hasten their end. Nor, indeed, is it this sort of people that are the most serious danger of society; it is not they who are the most effective in poisoning our spiritual life or making pestilential the ground beneath our feet; it is not they who are the most dangerous enemies of truth and freedom in our society.
Cries from all sides. Who, then? Who is it? Name, name.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you may be sure I will name them! For this is the great discovery I made yesterday! [In a louder tone.] The most dangerous enemies of truth and freedom in our midst are the compact majority. Yes, the d–d compact, liberal majority–they it is! Now you know it.
[Immense noise in the room. Most are shouting, stamping, and whistling. Several elderly gentlemen exchange stolen glances and seem amused MRS. STOCKMANN rises nervously. EJLIF and MORTEN advance threateningly toward the school-boys, who are making a noise. ASLAKSEN rings the bell and calls for order. HOVSTAD and BILLING both speak, but nothing can be heard. At last quiet is restored] Aslaksen. The chairman expects the speaker to withdraw his thoughtless remarks.
Dr. Stockmann. Never, Mr. Aslasken. For it is this great majority of our society that robs me of my freedom, and wants to forbid me to speak the truth.
Hovstad. Right is always on the side of the majority.
Billing. Yes, and the truth too, God bless me!
Dr. Stockmann.The majority is never right. Never, I say. That is one of those conventional lies against which a free, thoughtful man must rebel. Who are they that make up the majority of a country? Is it the wise men or th foolish? I think we must agree that the foolish folk are, at present, in a terribly overwhelming majority all around and about us the wide world over. But, devil take it, it can surely never be right that the foolish should rule over the wise! [Noise and shouts.] Yes, yes, you can shout me down, but you cannot gainsay me. The majority has might–unhappily–but right it has not. I and a few others are right. The minority is always right.
[Much noise again.] Hovstad. Ha! ha! So Dr. Stockmann has turned aristocrat since the day before yesterday!
Dr. Stockmann. I have said that I will not waste a word on the little, narrow-chested, short-winded crew that lie behind us. Pulsating life has nothing more to do with them. But I do think of the few individuals among us who have made all the new, germinating truths their own. These men stand, as it were, at the outposts, so far in advance that the compact majority has not yet reached them–and there they fight for truths that are too lately borne into the world's consciousness to have won over the majority.
Hovstad. So the doctor is a revolutionist now.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, by Heaven, I am, Mr. Hovstad! For I am going to revolt against the lie that truth resides in the majority. What sort of truths are those that the majority is wont to take up? Truths so full of years that they are decrepit. When a truth is as old as that it is in a fair way to become a lie, gentlemen. [Laughter and interruption.] Yes, yes, you may believe me or not; but truths are by no means wiry Methusalahs, as some people think. A normally-constituted truth lives–let me say–as a rule, seventeen or eighteen years, at the outside twenty years, seldom longer. But truths so stricken in gears are always shockingly thin. And yet it is only then that a majority takes them up and recommends them to society as wholesome food. But I can assure you there is not much nutritious matter in this sort of fare; and as a doctor I know something about it. All these majority-truths are like last year's salt pork; they are like rancid, mouldy ham, producing all the moral scrofula that devastates society.
Aslaksen. It seems to me that the honourable speaker is wandering very considerably from the subject.
Burgomaster.I quite agree with the chairman.
Dr. Stockmann. I really think you quite mad, Peter! I am keeping as closely to the subject as I possibly can, for what I am speaking of is only this–that the masses, the majority, that d-d compact majority–it is they, I say, who are poisoning our spiritual life, and making pestilential the ground beneath our feet.
Hovstad. And this the great, independent, majority of the people do, just because they are sensible enough to reverence only assured and acknowledged truths?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah! my dear Mr. Hovstad, don't talk so glibly about assured truths! The truths acknowledged by the masses, the multitude, are truths that the advanced guard thought assured in the days of our grandfathers. We, the fighters at the out-posts nowadays, we no longer acknowledge them, and I don't believe that there is any other assured truth but this–that society cannot live, and live wholesomely, upon such old, marrowless, lifeless truths as these.
Hovstad.But instead of all this vague talk it would be more interesting to learn what are these old, lifeless truths which we are living upon. [Approving applause generally.]
Dr. Stockmann. Ah! I couldn't go over the whole heap of abominations; but to begin with, I'll just keep to one acknowledged truth, which at bottom is a hideous lie, but which, all the same, Mr. Hovstad, and the Messenger, and all adherents of the Messenger live upon.
Hovstad. And that is–?
Dr. Stockmann. That is the doctrine that you have inherited from our forefathers, and that you heedlessly proclaim far and wide–the doctrine that the multitude, the vulgar herd, the masses, are the pith of the people–that, indeed, they are the people–that the common man, that this ignorant, undeveloped member of society has the same right to condemn or to sanction, to govern and to rule, as the few people of intellectual power.
Billing. Now really, God bless me–
Hovstad. [shouting at the same time]. Citizens, please note that!
Angry Voices. Ho, ho! Aren't we the people? Is it only the grand folk who're to govern?
A Working-man. Turn out the fellow who stands there talking such twaddle.
Others. Turn him out!
A Citizen [shouting]. Blow your horn, Evensen.
[Loud hooting, whistling; and terrific noise in the room.]
Dr Stockmann [when the noise had somewhat subsided]. Now do be reasonable! Can't you bear to hear the voice of truth for once ? Why, I don't ask you all to agree with me straight away. But I did certainly expect that Mr. Hovstad would be on my side, if he would but be true to himself. For Mr. Hovstad claims to be a free-thinker–
Several Voices ask wondering [in a low voice]. Free-thinker, did he say. What ? Editor Hovstad a free-thinker?
Hovstad.[shouting]. Prove it, Dr. Stockmann! When have I said that in print?
Dr. Stockmann [reflecting]. No; by Heaven, you're right there. You've never had the frankness to do that. Well, I won't get you into a scrape, Mr. Hovstad. Let me be the free-thinker then. For now I'll prove, and on scientific grounds, that the Messenger is leading you all by the nose shamefully, when it tells you that you, that the masses, the vulgar herd, are the true pith of the people. You see that is only a newspaper lie. The masses are nothing but the raw material that must be fashioned into the people. [Mumurs, laughter, and noise in the room.] Is it not so with all other living creatures on earth? How great the difference between a cultivated and an uncultivated breed of animals! Only look at a common barn hen. What sort of meat do you get from such a skinny animal? Nothing to boast of! And what sort of eggs does it lay? A fairly decent crow or raven can lay eggs nearly as good. Then take a cultivated Spanish or Japanese hen, or take a fine pheasant or turkey–ah! then you see the difference. And then I take the dog, man's closest ally. Think first of an ordinary common cur–I mean one of those loathsome, ragged, low mongrels, that haunt the streets, and are a nuisance to everybody. And place such a mongel by the side of a poodle dog, who for many generations has been bred from a well-known strain, who has lived on delicate food, and has heard harmonious voices and music. Don't you believe that the brain of a poodle has developed quite differently from that of a mongrel? Yes, you may depend upon that! It is educated poodles like this that jugglers train to perform the most extraordinary tricks. A common peasant-cur could never learn anything of the sort–not if he tried till Doomsday.
[Laughing and chaffing are heard all around]
A Citizen [shouting]. Do you want to make dogs of us now?
Another Man. We are not animals, doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, on my soul, but we are animals, old fellow! We're one and all of us as much animals as one could wish. But, truly, there aren't many distinguished animals among us. Ah! there is a terrible difference between men–poodles and men-mongrels. And the ridiculous part of it is, that Editor Hovstad quite agrees with me so long as we speak of four-footed animals–
Hovstad. Oh! do drop them!
Dr. Stockmann. All right! but so soon as I apply the law to the two-legged, Mr. Hovstad is up in arms; then he no longer dares to stick to his own opinions, he does not dare to think out his own thoughts to their logical end; then he turns his whole doctrines upside down, and proclaims in the People's Messenger that barn-yard hens and gutter mongrels are precisely the finest specimens in the menagerie. But it is always thus so long as you haven't work'd the vulgarity out of your system, and fought your way up to spiritual distinction.
Hovstad. I make no kind of pretensions to any sort of distinction. I come from simple peasants, and I am proud that my root lies deep down among the masses, who are being jeered at now.
Several Workmen. Three cheers for Hovstad! Hurrah! hurrah!
Dr. Stockmann. The sort of people I am speaking of you don't find only in the lower classes; they crawl and swarm all around us–up to the very highest classes of society. Why, only look at your own smug, smart Burgomaster! Truly, my brother Peter is as much one of the vulgar herd as any man walking on two legs.
[Laughter and hisses.]
Burgomaster. I beg to protest against such personal allusions.
Dr. Stockmann [imperturbably]. –and that not because he–like myself–is descended from a good-for-nothing old pirate of Pomerania, or somewhere thereabouts–yes, for that we are so–
Burgomaster. Absurd tradition! Has been refuted!
Dr. Stockmann. –but he is so because he thinks the thoughts of his forefathers, and holds the opinions of his forefathers The people who do this, they belong to the unintellectual mob;–see–that's why my pretentious brother Peter is at bottom so utterly without refinement,–and consequently so illiberal.
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman–
Hovstad. So that the distinguished persons in this country are liberals? That's quite a new theory.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that too is part of my new discovery. And you shall hear this also; that free thought is almost precisely the same thing as morality. And therefore I say that it is altogether unpardonable of the Messenger to proclaim day after day the false doctrine that it is the masses and the multitude, the compact majority, that monopolise free thought and morality,–and that vice and depravity and all spiritual filth are only the oozings from education, as all the filth down there by the Baths oozes out from the Mill Dale Tan-works! [Noise and interruptions. DR. STOCKMANN goes on imperturbably smiling in his eagerness.] And yet this same Messenger can still preach about the masses and the many being raised to a higher level of life! But, in the devil's name–if the doctrine of the Messenger holds good, why, then, this raising up of the masses would be synonymous with hurling them into destruction! But, happily, it is only an old hereditary lie that education demoralises. No, it is stupidity, poverty, the ugliness of life, that do this devil's work! In a house that isn't aired, and whose floors are not swept every day–my wife Katrine maintains that the floors ought to be scrubbed too, but we can't discuss that now ;–well,–in such a house, I say, within two or three years, people lose the power of thinking or acting morally. A deficiency of oxygen enervates the conscience. And it would seem there's precious little oxygen in many and many a house here in the town, since the whole compact majority is unscrupulous enough to be willing to build up the prosperity of the town upon a quagmire of lies and fraud.
Aslaksen. I cannot allow so gross an insult, levelled at all the citizens here present.
A Gentleman. I move that the chairman order the speaker to sit down.
Eager Voices. Yes, yes, that's right! Sit down! Sit down!
Dr. Stockmann [flaring up]. Then I will proclaim the truth from the house-tops! I'll write to other newspapers outside the town! The whole land shall know how matters are ordered here.
Hovstad. It would almost seem as if the doctor wanted to ruin the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I love my native town so well I mould rather ruin it than see it flourishing upon a lie.
Aslaksen. That is speaking strongly.
[Noise and whistling. MRS. STOCKMANN coughs in vain; the doctor no longer heeds her.]
Hovstad. [shouting amid the tumult]. The man who mould ruin a whole community must be an enemy of society!
Dr. Stockmann [with growing excitement]. It doesn't matter if a lying community is ruined! It must be levelled to the ground, I say! All men who live upon lies must be exterminated like vermin! You'll poison the whole country in time; you'll bring it to such a pass that the whole country will deserve to perish. And should it come to this, I say, from the bottom of my heart: Perish the country! Perish all its people!
A Man [in the crowd]. Why, he talks like a regular enemy of the people!
Billing. There, God bless me! spoke the voice of the people!
Many shouting. Yes! yes! yes! He's an enemy of the people! He hates the country! He hates the people!
Aslaksen. Both as a citizen of this town and as a man, I am deeply shocked at what I have been obliged to listen to here. Dr. Stockmann has unmasked himself in a manner I should never have dreamt of. I am reluctantly forced to subscribe to the opinion just expressed by a worthy citizen, and I think we ought to give expression to this opinion. I therefore beg to propose, "That this meeting is of opinion that the medical officer of the Bath, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, is an enemy of the people."
[Thunders of applause and cheers. Many form a circle round the doctor and hoot at him. MRS. STOCKMANN and PETRA have risen. MORTEN and EJLIF fight the other school-boys who have also been hooting. Some grown-up persons separate them.]
Dr. Stockmann [to the people hooting]. Ah! fools, that you are! I tell you that–
Aslaksen [ringing]. The doctor is out of order in speaking. A regular vote must be taken, and out of consideration for the feelings of those present the vote will be taken in writing and without names. Have you any blank paper, Mr. Billing?
Billing. Here's both blue and white paper–
Aslaksen. That'll do. We shall manage more quickly this way. Tear it up. That'sit. [To the meeting.] Blue means no, white means yes. I will myself go round and collect the votes.
[The Burgomaster leaves the room. ASLAKSEN and a few others go round with pieces of paper in hats.]
A Gentleman [to Hovstad]. Whatever is up with the doctor? What does it all mean?
Hovstad. Why, you know how irrepressible he is.
Another Gentleman [to Billing]. I say, you're intimate with him. Have you ever noticed if he drinks?
Billing. God bless me! I really don't know what to say. Teddy is always on the table whenever anyone calls.
3rd Gentleman. No, I rather think he's not always right in his head.
1st Gentleman. Yes–I wonder if madness is hereditary in the family?
Billing. I shouldn't wonder.
4th Gentleman. No, it's pure jealousy. He wants to be over the heads of the rest.
Billing. A few days ago he certainly was talking about a rise in his salary, but he did not get it.
All the Gentlemen [together]. Ah! that explains everything.
The Drunken Man [in the crowd]. I want a blue one, I do! And I'll have a white one too!
People call out. There's the drunken man again! Turn him out!
Morten Kiil [coming near to the doctor]. Well, Stockmann do you see now what this tomfoolery leads to?
Dr. Stockmann. I have done my duty.
Morten Kiil. What was that you said about the Mill-Dale Tanneries?
Dr. Stockmann. Why, you heard what I said; that all the filth comes from them.
Morten Kiil. From my tannery as well?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately, your tannery is the worst of all.
Morten Kiil. Will you put that into the papers too?
Dr. Stockmann. I never keep anything back.
Morten Kiil. That may cost you dear, Stockmann!
A Fat Gentleman [goes up to Horster without bowing to the ladies]. Well, Captain, so you lend your house to an enemy of the people.
Horster. I suppose I can do as I please with my own, sir.
The Merchant. Then, of course, you can have no objection if I do the same with mine?
Horster. What do you mean, sir?
The Merchant. You shall hear from me to-morrow.
[Turns away, and exit]
Petra. Wasn't that the shipowner?
Horster. Yes, that was Merchant Vik.
Aslaksen [with the voting papers in his hands, ascends the platform and rings]. Gentlemen! I have to acquaint you with the result of the vote. All, with one exception–
A Young Gentleman. That's the drunken man!
Aslaksen. With one exception–a tipsy man–this meeting of citizens declares the medical officer of the Baths, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, an enemy of the people. [Cheers and applause.] Three cheers for our honourable old community of citizens! [Applause.] Three cheers for our able and energetic Burgomaster, who has so loyally put on one side the claims of kindred! [Cheers.] The meeting is dissolved. [He descends.]
Billing. Three cheers for the chairman!
All. Hurrah for Printer Aslaksen!
Dr. Stockmann. My hat and coat, Petra! Captain, have you room for passengers to the new world?
Horster. For you and yours, doctor, we'll make room.
Dr. Stockmann [while Petra helps him on with his coat]. Good! Come, Katrine! come, boys!
[He gives his wife his arm.]
Mrs. Stockmann. [in a low voice]. Dear Thomas, let us go out by the back way.
Dr. Stockmann. No back ways, Katrine! [In a louder voice.] You shall hear of the enemy of the people before he shakes the dust from his feet! I'm not so forgiving as a certain person: I don't say I forgive you, for you know not what you do.
Aslaksen [shouting]. That is a blasphemous comparison, Dr. Stockmann!
Billing. It is, God bl– A serious man can't stand that!
A Coarse Voice. And he threatens us into the bargain!
Angry Cries. Let's smash the windows in his house. Let's give him a ducking!
A Man [in the crowd]. Blow your horn, Evensen Ta-rata ra-ra!
[Horn-blowing, whistling, and wild shouting. The doctor, with his family, goes toward the door. Horster makes way for them.]
All [shouting after them as they go out]. Enemy of the people! Enemy of the people! Enemy of the people!
Billing. Well, God bless me if I'd drink toddy at Doctor Stockmann's to-night!
The people throng towards the door; the noise is heard from the street beyond; cries of "Enemy of the people! Enemy of the people!"]