Needlework Embroidery depciting a scene from BABES IN THE WOOD also called THE CHILDREN OF THE WOOD
The daughter of John Springs III, Mary Laura Springs (1813-1872) was from the York District of South Carolina and attended Salem between 1828 and 1832. The subject of her needlework is a scene from a children’s story that was popular in the 19th century, The Babes in the Wood.
The picture depicted is a scene from a children’s story that was popular in the 19th century, The Babes in the Wood. The story was thought to be first published as an anonymous broadside ballad, printed by Thomas Millington in Norwich in 1595 with the title “The Norfolk gent his will and Testament and howe he Commytted the keepinge of his Children to his own brother whoe delte most wickedly with them and howe God plagued him for it”. The tale has been reworked in many forms in subsequent centuries.
The story tells of two small children left in the care of an uncle and aunt after their parents’ death. The uncle gives the children to ruffians to be killed because he is greedy for their inheritance. He tells his wife they are being sent to London for their upbringing. The murderers fall out and the “milder” of the two kills the other. He tells the children he will return with provisions, but they do not see him again. The children, wandering alone in the woods, die, and are covered by leaves by robins. Like many morality tales, the story continues with a description of the retribution befalling the uncle. In sanitized versions, the children are bodily taken to heaven or rescued and raised by an elderly woman. The story ends with a warning to those who have to take care of orphans and others’ children not to inflict God’s wrath upon themselves.
The scene depicted is the subject of another needlework in the OSMG collection Acc. 5962.3 stitched ca. 1807 at Salem Girls Boarding School by Elizabeth Dicks.
In 1837 Mary Laura married Adam Brevard Davidson. They lived at Rural Hill Plantation in what is now Huntersville, North Carolina.
The subject of the needlework picture is the story of the “Children in the Wood,” a fairy tale about two children abandoned in the forest by an unscrupulous uncle intent on getting the fortune left to the children at the death of their parents. According to the story, when the children die, their bodies are covered with leaves by robins. The story was originally written in the 16th century as a Ballad by Thomas Millington of Norwich, but has been adapted through the centuries by a number of authors.