quail before

quail before someone or something

to cower before or at the threat of someone or something. The students quailed before the angry principal. They quailed before the thought of punishment.
See also: before, quail
References in classic literature ?
He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wher- ever they should point.
I have seen a brawny, fellow, with no lack of ordinary courage, fairly quail before this slender stripling, when in one of his curious fits.