It is said of Caesar, that 'he had greater care of his books than of his royal robes,' for swimming through the waters to escape his enemies, he carried his books in his hand above the waters, but lost his robes. Ah, what are Caesar's books to God's books? Well, remember this, that one day, yea, one hour spent in the study of truth, or spreading abroad of truth, will yield the soul more comfort and profit than many thousand years spent in the study and spreading abroad of corrupt and vain opinions, that have their rise from hell, and not from heaven, from the god of this world and not form the God that shall at last judge this world, and all the corrupt opinions of men.(Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. First published 1652. Reprinted, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1984, p. 95)
Here are a few (late) references to this anecdote:
(Henry George Liddell, The Life of Julius Caesar, Sheldon, 1860, p. 194)
In a desperate contest which the Egyptians had commenced, with the intention of mastering the Romans on the side of the harbour, Caesar himself had a narrow escape. He had to throw himself from a sinking vessel into the water, and to escape by swimming. We read that, with a sword between his teeth, and with some valuable papers in his left, he made use of his right hand in propelling himself to a place of safety. It is probable that his purple cloak, worn always on the day of battle, was thrown away, and secured by the Alexandrians, who hung it up as a trophy in one of their temples. Caesar could afford to allow his enemies to indulge in such harmless boasts.
(John Williams, The Life of Julius Caesar, G. Routledge, 1854, p. 334)
Caesar, anticipating this danger, leaped over into the sea and swam to the ship. He had some papers in his hand at the time--plans perhaps of the works which he was assailing. These he held above the water with his left hand, while he swam with the right. And to save his purple cloak or mantle, the emblem of his imperial dignity, which he supposed the enemy would eagerly seek to obtain as a trophy, he seized it by a corner between his teeth, and drew it after him through the water as he swam toward the galley. The boat which he thus escaped from soon after went down, with all on board.Thos. Brooks drew his quote from a Latin source. If you know which source this is, please let me know. Thanks.(Jacob Abbot, The History of Julius Caesar, Harper, 1899, p. 207)