Literary musings on the Valley… November

Posted on November 7, 2014 by


When the chill winds of November admonished me to depart, I prepared to travel alone on horseback. My simple preparations being soon completed, I bade a sorrowful adieu to my friends and to the homestead of my youth, where every object was pleasant and dear to my soul. Never had I felt so melancholy. My previous absences from home had been only short excursions for amusement; my local attachments were strong and unbroken; my little circle of kindred and friends was nearly all the world to me. My journey was a solitary one to a strange land; my disease I knew to be always insidious and often fatal. I was constitutionally subject to fits of mental dejection. How could I be otherwise than sad? I was in fact plunged into the deepest gulf of despondency. When I reached the top of the Blue Ridge, a lonely figure from home, breathing short from obstructed lungs, going far away for the first time, to live and not improbably, to die among strangers, I turned to take what might be my last look over the woody hills and the cedar cliffs, that bent the river half round my paternal home. I saw the smoke in bluish wreaths ascending from the peaceful nook. I began to weep – yes though a man grown, I wept like a child, when I waved my hand to bid the unmutterable adieu to my native land, and turned my horses’s head down the southern declivity of the mountain.

– Extract from Chapter II of Judith Bensaddi (1839), by Henry Ruffner.

In my perusings of literary pieces generated by Valley natives in the nineteenth century, I happened upon the section of Judith Bensaddi that focuses on the departure of the main character from the Shenandoah Valley. For the fact that it happens to take place on a November day, and the weather in the Valley, today, seeming to mirror the mood of the passage… I thought I’d share. Pretty moving passage to boot… and sounds like Ruffner recounting his own departure from the Valley at some point.