Ephorus, who gives the last account of the thing, endeavours to ascertain the Reason, but seems not to find out the Truth.
The whole Land of Egypt (says he) is cast up from the River, and the Soyl is of a loose and spungy nature, and has in it many large Clifts and hollow Places, wherein are abundance of Water, which in the Winter-time is frozen up, and in the Summer issues out on every side, like Sweat from the Pores, which occasions the River Nile to rise. This Writer does not only betray his own Ignorance of the nature of Places in Egypt, that he never saw them himself, but likewise that he never was rightly inform'd by any that was acquainted with them. For if the overflowing of Nile should proceed from Egypt it self, it could not flow above the Land of Egypt, where it passes through Rocks and Mountainous Places. For as it takes its Course through Ethiopia for above the space of Six Thousand Furlongs, it is at its full height before ever it reach Egypt, and therefore if the River Nile lye lower than the Caverns of congested Earth, those Clefts and hollow Places must be above, towards the Superficies of the Earth, in which it is impossible so much Water should be contain'd. And if the River lye higher than those spongy Caverns, it is not possible that from hollow Places, much lower than the River, the Water should rise higher than the River. Lastly, who can imagin that Waters issuing out of Holes and hollow Parts of the Earth, should raise the River to such a height, as to overflow almost all the Land of Egypt? But I let pass this vain Imagination of Casting up the Soyl, and lodging of Waters in the Bowels of the Earth, being so easily to be confuted. The River Meander hath cast up a great Tract of Land in Asia, whereas at the time of the Rising of Nile, nothing of that kind in the least can be seen.
In the same manner the River Archelous in Arcadia, and Cephesus in Beotia, which runs down from Phocea, have cast up great quantities of Earth, by both which the Writer is convicted of falsity: And indeed no Man is to expect any certainty from Ephorus, who may be palpably discern'd not to make it his business in many things to declare the Truth. The Philosophers indeed in Memphis have urg'd strong Reasons of the Increase of Nile, which are hard to be confuted; and though they are improbable, yet many agree to them. For they divide the Earth into Three Parts, one of which is that wherein we inhabit; another quite contrary to these Places in the Seasons of the Year; the Third lying between these Two, which they say is uninhabitable by reason of the scorching heat of the Sun; and therefore if Nile should overflow in the Winter-time, it would be clear and evident, that its Source would arise out of our Zone, because then we have the most Rain: But on the contrary being that it rises in Summer, it's very probable that in the Country opposite to us it's Winter-time, where then there's much Rain, and that those Floods of Water are brought down thence to us: And therefore that none can ever find out the Head-Springs of Nile, because the River has its Course through the opposite Zone; which is uninhabited. And the exceeding sweetness of the Water, they say, is the Confirmation of this Opinion; for passing through the Torrid Zone, the Water is boil'd, and therefore this River is sweeter than any other in the World; for Heat does naturally dulcorate Water. But this Reason is easily refuted; for its plainly impossible that the River should rise to that height, and come down to us from the opposite Zone; especially if it be granted that the Earth is round. But if any yet shall be so obstinate as to affirm it is so as the Philosophers have said, I must in short say it's against and contrary to the Laws of Nature.
For being they hold Opinions that in the nature of the things can hardly be disprov'd, and place an inhabitable part of the World between us and them that are opposite to us; they conclude, that by this device, they have made it impossible, and out of the reach of the Wit of Man to confute them. But it is but just and equal, that those who affirm any thing positively, should prove what they say, either by good Authority or strength of Reason. How comes it about that only the River Nile should come down to us from the other opposite Zone? Have we not other Rivers that this may be as well apply'd to? As to the Causes alledg'd for the sweetness of the Water, they are absur'd: For if the Water be boyl'd with the parching Heat, and thereupon becomes sweet, it would have no productive