Text #3773The History of the Life and Reign of Alexander the Great. Vol. 2 .
[Bk. 9 Ch. 9 Verse 30 pp. 358--361]
About the third hour, the ocean, according to a regular alternation, began to flow in furiously, driving back the river. The river-at first, arrested; then, impressed with a new fore-rushed upward with more impetuosity than torrents descend a precipitous channel. The mass on board, unacquainted with the nature of the tide, saw only prodigies and symbols of the wrath of the gods. Ever and anon, the sea swelled; and, on plains recently dry, descended a diffused flood. The vessels lifted from their stations, and the whole fleet dispersed,- those who had debarked, in terror and astonishment at the calamity, ran from all quarters toward the ships. But tumultuous hurry is slow. These, with boat-hooks, are hauling up their gallies: these, while fixing their seats, prevent the oars from being paired: some, hastening to sail, without waiting for the complement of mariners, impel languid hulls, unmanageable, crippled in the wings of navigation: other transports could not hold those who inconsiderately pressed into them: deficient, or redundant, numbers equally obstructed the impatient. Here was clamoured, “Wait:” – here, “Row off.” Dissonant voices, circulating inconsistent orders, prevented the multitude from acting by their own observation, or from hearing the general command. Nor availed the pilots; whose directions were either undistinguished in the tumult, or disobeyed by terrified and promiscuous crews.
Vessels dash together; and oars are by turns snatched away, to impel other gallies. A spectator would not imagine a fleet carrying the same army, but hostile navies commencing a battle. Prows strike against sterns: on the invading vessels, other drive aft. The fury of altercation carried the mariners to blows.
Now the tide had inundated all the fields skirting the river, only tops of knolls extant like little islands: to these, from the evacuated ships, the majority swam in consternation.
The dispersed fleet was, partly, riding in deep water, where the land was depressed into dells; and, partly, resting on shoals, where the flood had covered elevated ground: - Suddenly breaks on the Macedonians a new alarm, more vivid than the former. The sea began to ebb; the deluge, with a violent drain, to retreat into the frith, disclosing tracts just before deeply buried. Unbuoyed, the ships pitched, some upon their prows, some upon their sides. The fields were strewed with baggage, arms, loose planks, and fragments of oars. The soldiers, neither daring to descent to the ground, nor reconciling themselves to stay in the transports, awaited what calamities could follow heavier than the present. They scarcely believed what they suffered, and witnessed – shipwrecks on dry land, the sea in a river. Not yet ended their unhappiness; for, ignorant that the speedy return of the tide would set their ships afloat, they predicted to themselves famine and death. Terrifying monsters, too, left by the waves were vagrantly gliding around.