- An Enemy of the People
Hovstad (as STOCKMANN comes in again). Well, what do you think of
that, Doctor? Don't you think it is high time we stirred a little
life into all this slackness and vacillation and cowardice?
Dr. Stockmann. Are you referring to Aslaksen?
Hovstad, Yes, I am. He is one of those who are floundering in a
bog--decent enough fellow though he may be, otherwise. And most
of the people here are in just the same case--see-sawing and
edging first to one side and then to the other, so overcome with
caution and scruple that they never dare to take any decided
Dr. Stockmann, Yes, but Aslaksen seemed to me so thoroughly well-
Hovstad. There is one thing I esteem higher than that; and that
is for a man to be self-reliant and sure of himself.
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are perfectly right there.
Hovstad. That is why I want to seize this opportunity, and try if
I cannot manage to put a little virility into these well-
intentioned people for once. The idol of Authority must be
shattered in this town. This gross and inexcusable blunder about
the water supply must be brought home to the mind of every
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; if you are of opinion that it is for
the good of the community, so be it. But not until I have had a
talk with my brother.
Hovstad. Anyway, I will get a leading article ready; and if the
Mayor refuses to take the matter up--
Dr. Stockmann. How can you suppose such a thing possible!
Hovstad. It is conceivable. And in that case--
Dr. Stockmann. In that case I promise you--. Look here, in that
case you may print my report--every word of it.
Hovstad. May I? Have I your word for it?
Dr. Stockmann (giving him the MS.). Here it is; take it with you.
It can do no harm for you to read it through, and you can give it
me back later on.
Hovstad. Good, good! That is what I will do. And now goodbye,
Dr. Stockmann. Goodbye, goodbye. You will see everything will
run quite smoothly, Mr. Hovstad--quite smoothly.
Hovstad. Hm!--we shall see. (Bows and goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (opens the dining-room door and looks in).
Katherine! Oh, you are back, Petra?
Petra (coming in). Yes, I have just come from the school.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Has he not been here yet?
Dr. Stockmann. Peter? No, but I have had a long talk with
Hovstad. He is quite excited about my discovery, I find it has a
much wider bearing than I atfirst imagined. And he has put his
at my disposal if necessity should arise.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think it will?
Dr. Stockmann. Not for a moment. But at all events it makes me
feel proud to know that I have the liberal-minded independent
press on my side. Yes, and just imagine--I have had a visit from
the Chairman of the Householders' Association!
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! What did he want?
Dr. Stockmann. To offer me his support too. They will support me
in a body if it should be necessary. Katherine--do you know what
I have got behind me?
Mrs. Stockmann. Behind you? No, what have you got behind you?
Dr. Stockmann. The compact majority.
Mrs. Stockmann. Really? Is that a good thing for you Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann. I should think it was a good thing. (Walks up and
down rubbing his hands.) By Jove, it's a fine thing to feel this
bond of brotherhood between oneself and one's fellow citizens!
Petra. And to be able to do so much that is good and useful,
Dr. Stockmann. And for one's own native town into the bargain, my
Mrs. Stockmann. That was a ring at the bell.
Dr. Stockmann. It must be he, then. (A knock is heard at the
door.) Come in!
Peter Stockmann (comes in from the hall). Good morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Glad to see you, Peter!
Mrs. Stockmann. Good morning, Peter, How are you?
Peter Stockmann. So so, thank you. (To DR. STOCKMANN.) I received
from you yesterday, after office hours, a report dealing with the
condition of the water at the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Have you read it?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I have,
Dr. Stockmann. And what have you to say to it?
Peter Stockmann (with a sidelong glance). Hm!--
Mrs. Stockmann. Come along, Petra. (She and PETRA go into the
room on the left.)
Peter Stockmann (after a pause). Was it necessary to make all
these investigations behind my back?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, because until I was absolutely certain about
Peter Stockmann. Then you mean that you are absolutely certain
Dr. Stockmann. Surely you are convinced of that.
Peter Stockmann. Is it your intention to bring this document
before the Baths Committee as a sort of official communication?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly. Something must be done in the matter--
and that quickly.
Peter Stockmann. As usual, you employ violent expressions in your
report. You say, amongst other things, that what we offer
visitors in our Baths is a permanent supply of poison.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, can you describe it any other way, Peter?
Just think--water that is poisonous, whether you drink it or
in it! And this we offer to the poor sick folk who come to us
trustfully and pay us at an exorbitant rate to be made well
Peter Stockmann. And your reasoning leads you to this conclusion,
that we must build a sewer to draw off the alleged impurities
from Molledal and must relay the water conduits.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Do you see any other way out of it? I don't.
Peter Stockmann. I made a pretext this morning to go and see the
town engineer, and, as if only half seriously, broached the
subject of these proposals as a thing we might perhaps have to
take under consideration some time later on.
Dr. Stockmann. Some time later on!
Peter Stockmann. He smiled at what he considered to be my
extravagance, naturally. Have you taken the trouble to consider
what your proposed alterations would cost? According to the
information I obtained, the expenses would probably mount up to
fifteen or twenty thousand pounds.
Dr. Stockmann. Would it cost so much?
Peter Stockmann. Yes; and the worst part of it would be that the
work would take at least two years.
Dr. Stockmann. Two years? Two whole years?
Peter Stockmann. At least. And what are we to do with the Baths
in the meantime? Close them? Indeed we should be obliged to. And
do you suppose anyone would come near the place after it had got
out that the water was dangerous?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes but, Peter, that is what it is.
Peter Stockmann. And all this at this juncture--just as the Baths
are beginning to be known. There are other towns in the
neighbourhood with qualifications to attract visitors for bathing
purposes. Don't you suppose they would immediately strain every
nerve to divert the entire stream of strangers to themselves?
Unquestionably they would; and then where should we be? We should
probably have to abandon the whole thing, which has cost us so
much money-and then you would have ruined your native town.
Dr. Stockmann. I--should have ruined--!
Peter Stockmann. It is simply and solely through the Baths that
the town has before it any future worth mentioning. You know that
just as well as I.
Dr. Stockmann. But what do you think ought to be done, then?
Peter Stockmann. Your report has not convinced me that the
condition of the water at the Baths is as bad as you represent it
Dr. Stockmann. I tell you it is even worse!--or at all events it
will be in summer, when the warm weather comes.
Peter Stockmann. As I said, I believe you exaggerate the matter
considerably. A capable physician ought to know what measures to
take--he ought to be capable of preventing injurious influences
or of remedying them if they become obviously persistent.
Dr. Stockmann. Well? What more?
Peter Stockmann. The water supply for the Baths is now an
established fact, and in consequence must be treated as such. But
probably the Committee, at its discretion, will not be
disinclined to consider the question of how far it might be
possible to introduce certain improvements consistently with a
Dr. Stockmann. And do you suppose that I will have anything to do
with such a piece of trickery as that?
Peter Stockmann. Trickery!!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it would be a trick--a fraud, a lie, a
downright crime towards the public, towards the whole community!
Peter Stockmann. I have not, as I remarked before, been able to
convince myself that there is actually any imminent danger.
Dr. Stockmann. You have! It is impossible that you should not be
convinced. I know I have represented the facts absolutely
truthfully and fairly. And you know it very well, Peter, only you
won't acknowledge it. It was owing to your action that both the
Baths and the water conduits were built where they are; and that
is what you won't acknowledge--that damnable blunder of yours.
Pooh!--do you suppose I don't see through you?
Peter Stockmann. And even if that were true? If I perhaps guard
my reputation somewhat anxiously, it is in the interests of the
town. Without moral authority I am powerless to direct public
affairs as seems, to my judgment, to be best for the common good.
And on that account--and for various other reasons too--it
to me to be a matter of importance that your report should not be
delivered to the Committee. In the interests of the public, you
must withhold it. Then, later on, I will raise the question and
we will do our best, privately; but, nothing of this unfortunate
affair not a single word of it--must come to the ears of the
Dr. Stockmann. I am afraid you will not be able to prevent that
now, my dear Peter.
Peter Stockmann. It must and shall be prevented.
Dr. Stockmann. It is no use, I tell you. There are too many
people that know about it.
Peter Stockmann. That know about it? Who? Surely you don't mean
those fellows on the "People's Messenger"?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, they know. The liberal-minded independent
press is going to see that you do your duty.
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