It is a feature of this footloose and obstinate river that it has several times during its brush with human history changed direction, taken short-cuts, long loops...been coaxed into new channels and rearranged its meeting-place with the sea. All of which might be construed as a victory for history, yet which is more aptly to be interpreted as the continued contempt of the river for the efforts of men. Since without the old Ouse's perpetual if unhurried unruliness, without its ungovernable desire to flow at its own pace and in its own way, none of those cuts and channels and re-alignments...would have ever been necessary. (109)
You must consider the natural history of the river, as well as the artificial history, to have an understanding of the river's "Here and Now."