backbone

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backbone

n. courage; integrity. (Colloquial.) If you had any backbone, you would be able to deal with this.
References in classic literature ?
When we reached the base of the Kaiserstuhl, we took two more horses; we had to toil along with difficulty for an hour and a half or two hours, for the ascent was not very gradual, but when we passed the backbone and approached the station, the driver surpassed all his previous efforts in the way of rush and clatter.
Dan sluiced the pen energetically, unshipped the table, set it up to dry in the moonlight, ran the red knife-blades through a wad of oakum, and began to sharpen them on a tiny grindstone, as Harvey threw offal and backbones overboard under his direction.
While at Lahainaluna--the residence of this monstrous Jezebel--a humpbacked wretch was pointed out to me, who, some twenty-five years previously, had had the vertebrae of his backbone very seriously discomposed by his gentle mistress.
Rising from the midst of vast plains and prairies, traversing several degrees of latitude, dividing the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and seeming to bind with diverging ridges the level regions on its flanks, it has been figuratively termed the backbone of the northern continent.
But just as he got within striking distance, the lady drew out a revolver and shot the animal, breaking his backbone.
These families, who had formed the backbone of the village life in the past who were the depositaries of the village traditions, had to seek refuge in the large centres; the process, humorously designated by statisticians as "the tendency of the rural population towards the large towns", being really the tendency of water to flow uphill when forced by machinery.
It is largely because it furnishes such a good opportunity to test the backbone of a student that I place such high value upon our night-school.
Dagley; but nothing was easier in those times than for an hereditary farmer of his grade to be ignorant, in spite somehow of having a rector in the twin parish who was a gentleman to the backbone, a curate nearer at hand who preached more learnedly than the rector, a landlord who had gone into everything, especially fine art and social improvement, and all the lights of Middlemarch only three miles off.
Gogoomy alone remained at large; and, as the pursuit closed in on him, he conquered his fear of the bushmen and headed straight in for the mountainous backbone of the island.
From this high backbone of earth, to the north, across the diminishing, down-falling ranges, we caught a glimpse of a far lake.
In addition to the stiffening afforded his backbone by the conscious ownership of eleven millions, he possessed an enormous certitude.
As you all know, by the looking, never have I sprouted one fin out of my backbone.
No man with half the backbone of a man would take it out of the harmless creatures.
Far in the distance, lifted into the sky, could be seen the great smoky mountains that marked the backbone of the Great Land.
To keep up the circulation, I ran around the island a dozen times or so, and clambered across its rocky backbone as many times more-- all of which was of greater service to me, as I afterward discovered, than merely to warm me up.