Page:Freud - The interpretation of dreams.djvu/26

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8
THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS

that has been withdrawn from memory during the waking state.

Delbœuf16 narrates from his own experience an especially impressive example of this kind. He saw in his dream the courtyard of his house covered with snow, and found two little lizards half-frozen and buried in the snow. Being a lover of animals, he picked them up, warmed them, and put them back into a crevice in the wall which was reserved for them. He also gave them some small fern leaves that had been growing on the wall, which he knew they were fond of. In the dream he knew the name of the plant: Asplenium ruta muralis. The dream then continued, returning after a digression to the lizards, and to his astonishment Delbœuf saw two other little animals falling upon what was left of the ferns. On turning his eyes to the open field he saw a fifth and a sixth lizard running into the hole in the wall, and finally the street was covered with a procession of lizards, all wandering in the same direction, &c.

In his waking state Delbœuf knew only a few Latin names of plants, and nothing of the Asplenium. To his great surprise he became convinced that a fern of this name really existed and that the correct name was Asplenium ruta muraria, which the dream had slightly disfigured. An accidental coincidence could hardly be considered, but it remained a mystery for Delbœuf whence he got his knowledge of the name Asplenium in the dream.

The dream occurred in 1862. Sixteen years later, while at the house of one of his friends, the philosopher noticed a small album containing dried plants resembling the albums that are sold as souvenirs to visitors in many parts of Switzerland. A sudden recollection occurred to him; he opened the herbarium, and discovered therein the Asplenium of his dream, and recognised his own handwriting in the accompanying Latin name. The connection could now be traced. While on her wedding trip, a sister of this friend visited Delbœuf in 1860—two years prior to the lizard dream. She had with her at the time this album, which was intended for her brother, and Delbœuf took the trouble to write, at the dictation of a botanist, under each of the dried plants the Latin name. The favourable accident which made possible the report of