(SCENE.--A big old-fashioned room in CAPTAIN HORSTER'S house. At
the back folding-doors, which are standing open, lead to an ante-
room. Three windows in the left-hand wall. In the middle of the
opposite wall a platform has been erected. On this is a small
table with two candles, a water-bottle and glass, and a bell. The
room is lit by lamps placed between the windows. In the
foreground on the left there is a table with candles and a chair.
To the right is a door and some chairs standing near it. The room
is nearly filled with a crowd of townspeople of all sorts, a few
women and schoolboys being amongst them. People are still
streaming in from the back, and the room is soon filled.)
1st Citizen (meeting another). Hullo, Lamstad! You here too?
2nd Citizen. I go to every public meeting, I do.
3rd Citizen. Brought your whistle too, I expect!
2nd Citizen. I should think so. Haven't you?
3rd Citizen. Rather! And old Evensen said he was going to bring a
cow-horn, he did.
2nd Citizen. Good old Evensen! (Laughter among the crowd.)
4th Citizen (coming up to them). I say, tell me what is going on
2nd Citizen. Dr. Stockmann is going to deliver an address
attacking the Mayor.
4th Citizen. But the Mayor is his brother.
1st Citizen. That doesn't matter; Dr. Stockmann's not the chap to
Peter Stockmann. For various reasons, which you will easily
understand, I must beg to be excused. But fortunately we have
amongst us a man who I think will be acceptable to you all. I
refer to the President of the Householders' Association, Mr.
Several voices. Yes--Aslaksen! Bravo Aslaksen!
(DR. STOCKMANN takes up his MS. and walks up and down the
Aslaksen. Since my fellow-citizens choose to entrust me with this
duty, I cannot refuse.
(Loud applause. ASLAKSEN mounts the platform.)
Billing (writing), "Mr. Aslaksen was elected with enthusiasm."
Aslaksen. And now, as I am in this position, I should like to say
a few brief words. I am a quiet and peaceable man, who believes
in discreet moderation, and--and--in moderate discretion. All my
friends can bear witness to that.
Several Voices. That's right! That's right, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. I have learned in the school of life and experience
moderation is the most valuable virtue a citizen can possess--
Peter Stockmann. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen. --And moreover, that discretion and moderation are what
enable a man to be of most service to the community. I would
therefore suggest to our esteemed fellow-citizen, who has called
this meeting, that he should strive to keep strictly within the
bounds of moderation.
A Man by the door. Three cheers for the Moderation Society!
A Voice. Shame!
Several Voices. Sh!-Sh!
Aslaksen. No interruptions, gentlemen, please! Does anyone wish
to make any remarks?
Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman.
Aslaksen. The Mayor will address the meeting.
Peter Stockmann. In consideration of the close relationship in
which, as you all know, I stand to the present Medical Officer of
the Baths, I should have preferred not to speak this evening. But
my official position with regard to the Baths and my solicitude
for the vital interests of the town compel me to bring forward a
motion. I venture to presume that there is not a single one of
our citizens present who considers it desirable that unreliable
and exaggerated accounts of the sanitary condition of the Baths
and the town should be spread abroad.
Several Voices. No, no! Certainly not! We protest against it!
Peter Stockmann. Therefore, I should like to propose that the
meeting should not permit the Medical Officer either to read or
to comment on his proposed lecture.
Dr. Stockmann (impatiently). Not permit--! What the devil--!
Mrs. Stockmann (coughing). Ahem!-ahem!
Dr. Stockmann (collecting himself). Very well, Go ahead!
Peter Stockmann. In my communication to the "People's Messenger,"
I have put the essential facts before the public in such a way
that every fair-minded citizen can easily form his own opinion.
From it you will see that the main result of the Medical
Officer's proposals--apart from their constituting a vote of
censure on the leading men of the town--would be to saddle the
ratepayers with an unnecessary expenditure of at least some
thousands of pounds.
(Sounds of disapproval among the audience, and some cat-calls.)
Aslaksen (ringing his bell). Silence, please, gentlemen! I beg to
support the Mayor's motion. I quite agree with him that there is
something behind this agitation started by the Doctor. He talks
about the Baths; but it is a revolution he is aiming at--he wants
to get the administration of the town put into new hands. No one
doubts the honesty of the Doctor's intentions--no one will
that there can be any two opinions as to that, I myself am a
believer in self-government for the people, provided it does not
fall too heavily on the ratepayers. But that would be the case
here; and that is why I will see Dr. Stockmann damned--I beg your
pardon--before I go with him in the matter. You can pay too
dearly for a thing sometimes; that is my opinion.
(Loud applause on all sides.)
Hovstad. I, too, feel called upon to explain my position. Dr.
Stockmann's agitation appeared to be gaining a certain amount of
sympathy at first, so I supported it as impartially as I could.
But presently we had reason to suspect that we had allowed
ourselves to be misled by misrepresentation of the state of
Dr. Stockmann. Misrepresentation--!
Hovstad. Well, let us say a not entirely trustworthy
representation. The Mayor's statement has proved that. I hope no
one here has any doubt as to my liberal principles; the attitude
of the "People's Messenger "towards important political questions
is well known to everyone. But the advice of experienced and
thoughtful men has convinced me that in purely local matters a
newspaper ought to proceed with a certain caution.
Aslaksen. I entirely agree with the speaker.