"I have sometimes thought," he went on, "that it would be glorious to find a friend to stand by my side at the top of the planks, just there, when the tide was high, and to bid him loose my chair and to steer it myself, to steer it down the narrow path into the arms of the sea
. The first touch of the salt waves, the last touch of life.
It occurred to me that land-shells, when hybernating and having a membranous diaphragm over the mouth of the shell, might be floated in chinks of drifted timber across moderately wide arms of the sea
. And I found that several species did in this state withstand uninjured an immersion in sea-water during seven days: one of these shells was the Helix pomatia, and after it had again hybernated I put it in sea-water for twenty days, and it perfectly recovered.
It was the peculiar shape of Manhattan Island, pressed in by arms of the sea
on either side, and incapable of comfortable expansion, except along a narrow northward belt, that first gave the New York architects their bias for extreme vertical dimensions.
* sthmus: a lovely lispy word indeed, and how vulnerable it all looked, this flat plain between two arms of the sea
On the toxic emanations early modern Europeans commonly attributed to arms of the sea
, especially in clement weather, see Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant (Cambridge, MA, 1986).