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more than a certain amount of notoriety. The Doll's House, which is perhaps the best known of Ibsen's plays in this country, stands on a somewhat different plane, for although American audiences may not be very greatly interested in the social problems which Ibsen has here set forth, they cannot fail to be stirred by “The Greatest Miracle !" which occurs at the end of this play, and the circumstances which cause Nora to leave Helmer's house. If they do not agree with the author's philosophy, they should in fairness bear in mind that they are perhaps incapable of understanding the life which Ibsen is trying to depict, or the circumstances which give rise to the problems which he sets before them. But it is not The Doll's House, nor the forcible unwholesomeness of Ghosts, which will appeal most strongly to us.
Nor is a poem like Brand, beautiful as it is, exactly suited to Englishspeaking people. They care little for life “up among the snow,” where the scene of Brand is laid, “in the wilds of the fells where the snow lies thick and heavy.” Such plays should be left entirely to those who have made a study of Ibsen, and to those who consider him infallible. But if we do not like these plays we ought not to infer that Ibsen has not done more interesting work. It is rather a play which is not only true to life, but true to life anywhere; a description of events which could happen as well in England and America, as in Norway, which will enable Ibsen to overcome the unpopularity which unfortunately is associated with his name. Such a play is An Enemy of the People, which sets forth a great truth as it has never been presented before, in which Ibsen shows us characters truer to life than any we find in Dickens, and the workings of various human minds. This play is free than the others from the author's mannerisms, and shows how really fine Ibsen can be at times. For American readers at least this is without doubt his greatest play, and it is from this play that they should form their judgment of the author.
Imagine a small town on the southern coast of Norway, filled with characteristic Norwegians, hardy, healthy,
and happy. All towns in Norway are small—even Christiania is not large—but this particular town has been more fortunate than the rest and has a future before it; to these Norwegians, a great future. Several years before, Dr. Stockmann, who is the central person in the play, while isolated from his fellow men in the northern part of the country, evolved a scheme for building baths in his native town, and when the opportune moment came he presented the plans to his brother, who is the Burgomaster, and the baths were finally erected. A board of directors is chosen with the Burgomaster at the head, and Dr. Stockmann is made Medical Director. The fame of the baths spreads far and wide, and the town becomes highly prosperous. But one day in one of his researches after truth Dr. Stockmann makes a horrible discovery. The water of the baths is impure : instead of being beneficial it is highly injurious! With all the fervor of his excitable nature, Dr. Stockmann hastens to make known his discovery. What a blessing that he has discovered it in time! Hovstad, the editor of the People's Messenger, is no less enthusiastic. He promises to point out the Doctor's new discovery in the paper. He will proclaim Dr. Stockmann a “friend of the people.” Everything goes well for the new discovery, and finally the news comes to his brother Peter. He refuses to see things in the same light. “Your statement has not succeeded in convincing me that the condition of the water is as serious as you suppose,” he says, and for the first time Dr. Stockmann has cause to believe that things will not go as smoothly as he had anticipated. The Burgomaster explains that the proposed changes would cost a great deal of money, and would take two years. If his brother were to insist on the changes he would certainly be “ An Enemy of the People.” Open war is declared between the Burgomaster and his brother. But still Dr. Stockmann has Hovstad and the People's Messenger behind him. Peter goes to Hovstad, however, and explains to him that should the proposed changes be made the town would be ruined. And, which is more to the point, his paper would be ruined. He himself has prepared a short statement denying the report which he thinks it would be well for the paper to print. Hovstad, persuaded by the Burgomaster's authority, agrees to publish it, and when Dr. Stockmann calls to see his proof he finds that the paper on whose aid he has so strongly relied is against him too. But Dr. Stockmann is determined that the people shall know the truth, in spite of the Burgomaster and the editor, and in spite of the fact that he will undoubtedly lose his position at the baths. It is so great a truth that it must not be kept secret. He gets a hall—not a large one, for no one will rent him one in the face of the Burgomaster's disapproval—but a small, dingy room which a friend has lent him. It is here that he attempts to tell the citizens of the town, whose welfare he has so much at heart, that the Burgomaster,—his brother, -is leading them astray, and that they should at once make the changes at the baths,-changes which will materially affect their incomes. A crowd assembles to hear him, but the Burgomaster forbids him to speak on the subject nearest to his heart, -the baths. This is the
—the reward given him for the work he had done for his native town. Defeated on every side, he determines not to be beaten at the end. And then, in one of the greatest scenes which is to be found in the dramatic literature of any nation, Dr. Stockmann denounces the Burgomaster and Hovstad, and in a discourse which cannot be surpassed for rough eloquence and power, presents some truths which should give to Ibsen undying fame. He stands there while the mob jeer at him, proclaiming what he believes to be great truths, and at the end of the meeting he is publicly voted to be “An Enemy of the People.”
The last act discloses him picking up the stones which have been thrown through his window. There is something very pitiful in his remark, as he surveys his tattered clothes.
“One ought never to put on one's best trousers when fighting for liberty and truth.”
He is discharged from the baths; his landlord gives him notice, for he dare not rent his rooms to “An Enemy
of the People.” He is disinherited by his uncle; his practice is ruined. He stands alone in the world with his family, and even his family are not free from the insults which are heaped upon their father. His sons are expelled from school. The teacher is very sorry, but she dare not have the sons of “ An Enemy of the People" attend her school.
And even then Dr. Stockmann declares himself to be the strongest man in the town, for he has gone mad.
“Hush,” he says, as his family gather around him in the room which is theirs no longer, “I have made another great discovery. The strongest man upon earth is he who stands most alone."
And with this characteristic sentence of Ibsen's the curtain falls. After seeing a play like this one cannot help feeling Ibsen's power. Dr. Stockmann is a great character and he is surrounded by a group of characters who are all true to life. It is easy to understand why Norwegian people worship Ibsen. We are told that in Norway “ The cultivated homes among these ten million of people look to Ibsen as their great teacher. They do not always like what he says, but they let him speak on. Such furious discussions did “ The Doll's House” arouse when the play came out that many social invitations given in Stockholm during that winter bore the words “You are
“ requested not to mention The Doll's House'!” Foreigners, however, look at him in many ways. It has been customary to put Ibsen down as a “fad.” But people cannot fail, if they study him, to be instructed by so great a teacher. To appreciate his greatness let them read first “ An Enemy of the People," and then, if they choose, they should read his other plays. The first will show his greatness; the others will merely supplement it.
Raymond Sanford White.
A graveyard lies far in the woods
O'ergrown with golden-rod and fern, Soft myrtle decks the peaceful graves
And woodbine wreathes o'er stone and urn.
The sun bestows a kindly light,
Above, green maple branches wave, A railing, long since painted white,
Surrounds a lonely little grave.
Two pine trees, set by loving hands
Within the shelter of the place,
To roof almost the narrow space.
Beneath the lacing of their boughs
The ground is carpeted with moss, Quaint sepulchre, o'erguarded by
The shadow of the graveyard cross.
No monument, save one white board,
No words, save“ Mary," rudely traced, Her age, five weeks, and then the verse
By time and weather half-effaced:
“I cannot shed a tear for her,
I know it is a sin to mourn, But oh 'tis very, very hard
To linger here now Mary's gone."
Sad in their simple loneliness
And sweet with sense of tender love, They consecrate the lowly spot
And breathe a blessing from above.
The sun bestows a kindly warmth
And long green maple branches wave,
Thomas Frederick Davies, Jr.