By Victor Knowles
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) loved his wife. She loved to help
her husband in his writing career. But she became ill with
cancer and was confined to bed. Though he loved her dearly,
Carlyle was so busy writing that he rarely found time to
stay at her bedside.
The day of her burial it rained and the mud was deep. After
the funeral, Carlyle returned home, deeply shaken. He went
into his wife's bedroom, sat down on a chair beside her bed,
realizing he had not spent enough time with her in her
From the bedside table he picked up her diary and began to
read. One line smote his heart: "Yesterday he spent an hour
with me and it was like being in heaven. I love his so." He
turned the page and this time his heart was broken, for she
had written, "I have listened all day to hear his steps in
the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won't come
Carlyle threw the diary to the floor and rushed back to the
cemetery in the rain. Friends found him face down in the mud
at the newly made grace. He was weeping, saying over and
over, "If I had only known! If I had only known!"
, date unknown.