A simple amalgam of en and isle, this is a pleasing, antique phrase - but was also not Berenson's. The OED would have one believe that it petered out in the 19th century, when, fittingly, it was used in several essays by the author of The Ancient Mariner. Coleridge refers, slaveringly, to "knots of curds inisled by interjacent whey at irregular intervals". Such an image of the world's delights could surely have offered some consolation to Matthew Arnold, who, many decades ahead of Berenson's particular woes, referred to being "in the sea of life enisled . . . we mortal millions live alone".
MERYLE SECREST, the biographer of the fraudulent art connoisseur Bernard Berenson, records that, when depressed, he referred to himself as feeling enisled in the sea of life.