Osborne – 19 January 1876
I feel and enter into all your anxieties and troubles about your dear children, but Papa and I felt the same. But experience has taught me alas! that youth is so wayward and foolish that all one’s wish to make them do what is for their good and what is the best is useless! One must try and pray for them to be guided for the best – and must leave them to learn by experience what they will not do from confidence in and affection for their parents. But how it hurts oneself it is difficult to express. It is a great, great trial. But as one goes on in life, one learns to bear this better. Most extraordinary it is to see that the more has been taken in every way the less they often succeed. And often when children have been less watched and less taken care of – the better they turn out!! This is inexplicable and very annoying.
I can assure you that, though in each individual grandchild I can’t take the same interest, I do in the anxieties of each of my children about their children and yours – especially the elder ones – the very greatest. How I wish you would send Willy and Henry before they are older to come and see me. To Scotland, how nice and how good for them that would be.1