- An Enemy of the People
(HOVSTAD, BILLING and HORSTER have got up from the table and come
into the sitting-room. EJLIF and MORTEN come in after them.)
Billing (stretching himself). Ah!--one feels a new man after a
meal like that.
Hovstad. The mayor wasn't in a very sweet temper tonight, then.
Dr. Stockmann. It is his stomach; he has wretched digestion.
Hovstad. I rather think it was us two of the "People's Messenger"
that he couldn't digest.
Mrs. Stockmann. I thought you came out of it pretty well with
Hovstad. Oh yes; but it isn't anything more than a sort of truce.
Billing. That is just what it is! That word sums up the
Dr. Stockmann. We must remember that Peter is a lonely man, poor
chap. He has no home comforts of any kind; nothing but
everlasting business. And all that infernal weak tea wash that he
pours into himself! Now then, my boys, bring chairs up to the
table. Aren't we going to have that toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann (going into the dining-room). I am just getting
Dr. Stockmann. Sit down here on the couch beside me, Captain
Horster. We so seldom see you. Please sit down, my friends.
(They sit down at the table. MRS. STOCKMANN brings a tray, with a
spirit-lamp, glasses, bottles, etc., upon it.)
Mrs. Stockmann. There you are! This is arrack, and this is rum,
and this one is the brandy. Now every one must help themselves.
Dr. Stockmann (taking a glass). We will. (They all mix themselves
some toddy.) And let us have the cigars. Ejlif, you know where
the box is. And you, Morten, can fetch my pipe. (The two boys go
into the room on the right.) I have a suspicion that Ejlif
pockets a cigar now and then!--but I take no notice of it. (Calls
out.) And my smoking-cap too, Morten. Katherine, you can tell him
where I left it. Ah, he has got it. (The boys bring the various
things.) Now, my friends. I stick to my pipe, you know. This one
has seen plenty of bad weather with me up north. (Touches glasses
with them.) Your good health! Ah, it is good to be sitting snug
and warm here,
Mrs. Stockmann (who sits knitting). Do you sail soon, Captain
Horster. I expect to be ready to sail next week.
Mrs. Stockmann. I suppose you are going to America?
Horster. Yes, that is the plan.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then you won't be able to take part in the coming
Horster. Is there going to be an election?
Billing. Didn't you know?
Horster. No, I don't mix myself up with those things.
Billing. But do you not take an interest in public affairs?
Horster. No, I don't know anything about politics.
Billing. All the same, one ought to vote, at any rate.
Horster. Even if one doesn't know anything about what is going
Billing. Doesn't know! What do you mean by that? A community is
like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
Horster. Maybe that is all very well on shore; but on board ship
it wouldn't work.
Hovstad. It is astonishing how little most sailors care about
what goes on on shore.
Billing. Very extraordinary.
Dr. Stockmann. Sailors are like birds of passage; they feel
equally at home in any latitude. And that is only an additional
reason for our being all the more keen, Hovstad. Is there to be
anything of public interest in tomorrow's "Messenger"?
Hovstad. Nothing about municipal affairs. But the day after
tomorrow I was thinking of printing your article--
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, devil take it--my article! Look here, that
must wait a bit.
Hovstad. Really? We had just got convenient space for it, and I
thought it was just the opportune moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, very likely you are right; but it must
wait all the same. I will explain to you later. (PETRA comes in
from the hall, in hat and cloak and with a bundle of exercise
books under her arm.)
Petra. Good evening.
Dr. Stockmann. Good evening, Petra; come along.
(Mutual greetings; PETRA takes off her things and puts them down
on a chair by the door.)
Petra. And you have all been sitting here enjoying yourselves,
while I have been out slaving!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, come and enjoy yourself too!
Billing. May I mix a glass for you?
Petra (coming to the table). Thanks, I would rather do it; you
always mix it too strong. But I forgot, father--I have a letter
for you. (Goes to the chair where she has laid her things.)
Dr. Stockmann. A letter? From whom?
Petra (looking in her coat pocket). The postman gave it to me
just as I was going out.
Dr. Stockmann (getting up and going to her). And you only give to
Petra. I really had not time to run up again. There it is!
Dr. Stockmann (seizing the letter). Let's see, let's see, child!
(Looks at the address.) Yes, that's all right!
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it the one you have been expecting go
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it is. I must go to my room now and-- Where
shall I get a light, Katherine? Is there no lamp in my room
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, your lamp is already lit on your desk.
Dr. Stockmann. Good, good. Excuse me for a moment--, (Goes into
Petra. What do you suppose it is, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; for the last day or two he has
always been asking if the postman has not been,
Billing. Probably some country patient.
Petra. Poor old dad!--he will overwork himself soon. (Mixes a
glass for herself.) There, that will taste good!
Hovstad. Have you been teaching in the evening school again
Petra (sipping from her glass). Two hours.
Billing. And four hours of school in the morning?
Petra. Five hours.
Mrs. Stockmann. And you have still got exercises to correct, I
Petra. A whole heap, yes.
Horster. You are pretty full up with work too, it seems to me.
Petra. Yes--but that is good. One is so delightfully tired after it.
Billing. Do you like that?
Petra. Yes, because one sleeps so well then.
Morten. You must be dreadfully wicked, Petra.
Morten. Yes, because you work so much. Mr. Rorlund says work is a
punishment for our sins.
Ejlif. Pooh, what a duffer, you are, to believe a thing like that!
Mrs. Stockmann. Come, come, Ejlif!
Billing (laughing). That's capital!
Hovstad. Don't you want to work as hard as that, Morten?
Morten. No, indeed I don't.
Hovstad. What do you want to be, then?
Morten. I should like best to be a Viking,
Ejlif. You would have to be a pagan then.
Morten. Well, I could become a pagan, couldn't I?
Billing. I agree with you, Morten! My sentiments, exactly.
Mrs. Stockmann (signalling to him). I am sure that is not true,
Billing. Yes, I swear it is! I am a pagan, and I am proud of it.
Believe me, before long we shall all be pagans.
Morten. And then shall be allowed to do anything we like?
Billing. Well, you'll see, Morten.
Mrs. Stockmann. You must go to your room now, boys; I am sure you
have some lessons to learn for tomorrow.
Ejlif. I should like so much to stay a little longer--
Mrs. Stockmann. No, no; away you go, both of you, (The boys say
good night and go into the room on the left.)
Hovstad. Do you really think it can do the boys any harm to hear
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; but I don't like it.
Petra. But you know, mother, I think you really are wrong about
Mrs. Stockmann. Maybe, but I don't like it--not in our own home.
Petra. There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At
home one must not speak, and at school we have to stand and tell
lies to the children.
Horster. Tell lies?
Petra. Yes, don't you suppose we have to teach them all sorts of
things that we don't believe?
Billing. That is perfectly true.
Petra. If only I had the means, I would start a school of my own;
and it would be conducted on very different lines.
Billing. Oh, bother the means--!
Horster. Well if you are thinking of that, Miss Stockmann, I
shall be delighted to provide you with a schoolroom. The great
big old house my father left me is standing almost empty; there
is an immense dining-room downstairs--
Petra (laughing). Thank you very much; but I am afraid nothing
will come of it.
Hovstad. No, Miss Petra is much more likely to take to
journalism, I expect. By the way, have you had time to do
anything with that English story you promised to translate for
Petra. No, not yet, but you shall have it in good time.
(DR. STOCKMANN comes in from his room with an open letter in his
Dr. Stockmann (waving the letter). Well, now the town will have
something new to talk about, I can tell you!
Billing. Something new?
Mrs. Stockmann. What is this?
Dr. Stockmann. A great discovery, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann. A discovery of yours?
Dr. Stockmann. A discovery of mine. (Walks up and down.) Just let
them come saying, as usual, that it is all fancy and a crazy
man's imagination! But they will be careful what they say this
time, I can tell you!
Petra. But, father, tell us what it is.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes--only give me time, and you shall know
all about it. If only I had Peter here now! It just shows how we
men can go about forming our judgments, when in reality we are as
blind as any moles--
Hovstad. What are you driving at, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still by the table). Isn't it the
universal opinion that our town is a healthy spot?
Dr. Stockmann. Quite an unusually healthy spot, in fact--a place
that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner
either for invalids or for people who are well--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but my dear Thomas--
Dr. Stockmann. And we have been recommending it and praising it--
I have written and written, both in the "Messenger" and in
Hovstad. Well, what then?
Dr. Stockmann. And the Baths--we have called them the "main
artery of the town's life-blood," the "nerve-centre of our town,"
and the devil knows what else--
Billing. "The town's pulsating heart" was the expression I once
used on an important occasion.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. Well, do you know what they really are,
these great, splendid, much praised Baths, that have cost so much
money--do you know what they are?
Hovstad. No, what are they?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, what are they?
Dr. Stockmann. The whole place is a pest-house!
Petra. The Baths, father?
Mrs. Stockmann (at the same time), Our Baths?
Hovstad. But, Doctor--
Billing. Absolutely incredible!
Dr. Stockmann. The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned
sepulchre, I tell you--the gravest possible danger to the public
health! All the nastiness up at Molledal, all that stinking
filth, is infecting the water in the conduit-pipes leading to the
reservoir; and the same cursed, filthy poison oozes out on the
Horster. Where the bathing-place is?
Dr. Stockmann. Just there.
Hovstad. How do you come to be so certain of all this, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. I have investigated the matter most
conscientiously. For a long time past I have suspected something
of the kind. Last year we had some very strange cases of illness
among the visitors--typhoid cases, and cases of gastric fever--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is quite true.
Dr. Stockmann. At the time, we supposed the visitors had been
infected before they came; but later on, in the winter, I began
to have a different opinion; and so I set myself to examine the
water, as well as I could.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then that is what you have been so busy with?
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I have been busy, Katherine. But here I had
none of the necessary scientific apparatus; so I sent samples,
both of the drinking-water and of the sea-water, up to the
University, to have an accurate analysis made by a chemist.
Hovstad. And have you got that?
Dr. Stockmann (showing him the letter). Here it is! It proves the
presence of decomposing organic matter in the water--it is full
of infusoria. The water is absolutely dangerous to use, either
internally or externally.
Mrs. Stockmann. What a mercy you discovered it in time.
Dr. Stockmann. You may well say so.
Hovstad. And what do you propose to do now, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. To see the matter put right, naturally.
Hovstad. Can that be done?
Dr. Stockmann. It must be done. Otherwise the Baths will be
absolutely useless and wasted. But we need not anticipate that; I
have a very clear idea what we shall have to do.
Mrs. Stockmann. But why have you kept this all so secret, dear?
Dr. Stockmann. Do you suppose I was going to run about the town
gossiping about it, before I had absolute proof? No, thank you. I
am not such a fool.
Petra. Still, you might have told us--
Dr. Stockmann. Not a living soul. But tomorrow you may run around
to the old Badger--
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, Thomas! Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, to your grandfather, then. The old boy will
have something to be astonished at! I know he thinks I am
cracked--and there are lots of other people who think so too, I
noticed. But now these good folks shall see--they shall just see!
(Walks about, rubbing his hands.) There will be a nice upset
in the town, Katherine; you can't imagine what it will be. All
the conduit-pipes will have to be relaid.
Hovstad (getting up). All the conduit-pipes--?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course. The intake is too low down; it
will have to be lifted to a position much higher up.
Petra. Then you were right after all.
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you remember, Petra--I wrote opposing the
plans before the work was begun. But at that time no one would
listen to me. Well, I am going to let them have it now. Of
course I have prepared a report for the Baths Committee; I have
had it ready for a week, and was only waiting for this to come.
(Shows the letter.) Now it shall go off at once. (Goes into his
room and comes back with some papers.) Look at that! Four closely
written sheets!-- and the letter shall go with them. Give me a bit
of paper, Katherine--something to wrap them up in. That will do!
Now give it to-to-(stamps his foot)--what the deuce is her name?-
-give it to the maid, and tell her to take it at once to the
(Mrs. Stockmann takes the packet and goes out through the dining-
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