Through the Looking Glass - Ch 06 - 2 Names and ages
Type of Spiritual Experience
There is a kind of in joke here, as spirit helpers have a tendency to take everything totally literally. They are there to help, so the nuances of language pass them by.
There are more references to time here.
There is a slightly ominous ring about the 'with a little help you might have left off at seven' but Carroll did not quite mean it in the literal way we might take it.
A description of the experience
Alice through the Looking Glass
'Don't stand there chattering to yourself like that,' Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time, 'but tell me your name and your business.'
'My NAME is Alice, but--'
'It's a stupid enough name!' Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. 'What does it mean?'
'MUST a name mean something?' Alice asked doubtfully.
'Of course it must,' Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: 'MY name means the shape I am--and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.'
'Why do you sit out here all alone?' said Alice, not wishing to begin an argument.
'Why, because there's nobody with me!' cried Humpty Dumpty. 'Did you think I didn't know the answer to THAT? Ask another.'
'Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?' Alice went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature. 'That wall is so VERY narrow!'
'What tremendously easy riddles you ask!' Humpty Dumpty growled out. 'Of course I don't think so! Why, if ever I DID fall off--which there's no chance of--but IF I did--' Here he pursed up his lips and looked so solemn and grand that Alice could hardly help laughing. 'IF I did fall,' he went on, 'THE KING HAS PROMISED ME--ah, you may turn pale, if you like! You didn't think I was going to say that, did you? THE KING HAS PROMISED ME--WITH HIS VERY OWN MOUTH--to--to--'
'To send all his horses and all his men,' Alice interrupted, rather unwisely.
'Now I declare that's too bad!' Humpty Dumpty cried, breaking into a sudden passion. 'You've been listening at doors--and behind trees—and down chimneys--or you couldn't have known it!'
'I haven't, indeed!' Alice said very gently. 'It's in a book.'
'Ah, well! They may write such things in a BOOK,' Humpty Dumpty said in a calmer tone. 'That's what you call a History of England, that is. Now, take a good look at me! I'm one that has spoken to a King, I am: mayhap you'll never see such another: and to show you I'm not proud, you may shake hands with me!' And he grinned almost from ear to ear, as he leant forwards (and as nearly as possible fell off the wall in doing so) and offered Alice his hand. She watched him a little anxiously as she took it. 'If he smiled much more, the ends of his mouth might meet behind,' she thought: 'and then I don't know what would happen to his head! I'm afraid it would come off!'
'Yes, all his horses and all his men,' Humpty Dumpty went on. 'They'd pick me up again in a minute, THEY would! However, this conversation is going on a little too fast: let's go back to the last remark but one.'
'I'm afraid I can't quite remember it,' Alice said very politely.
'In that case we start fresh,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'and it's my turn to choose a subject--' ('He talks about it just as if it was a game!' thought Alice.) 'So here's a question for you. How old did you say you were?'
Alice made a short calculation, and said 'Seven years and six months.'
'Wrong!' Humpty Dumpty exclaimed triumphantly. 'You never said a word like it!'
'I though you meant "How old ARE you?"' Alice explained.
'If I'd meant that, I'd have said it,' said Humpty Dumpty.
Alice didn't want to begin another argument, so she said nothing.
'Seven years and six months!' Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. 'An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd asked MY advice, I'd have said "Leave off at seven"--but it's too late now.'
'I never ask advice about growing,' Alice said indignantly.
'Too proud?' the other inquired.
Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. 'I mean,' she said, 'that one can't help growing older.'
'ONE can't, perhaps,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'but TWO can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.'