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,
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
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
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--
(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