mainspring

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Related to mainsprings: Watch barrel

mainspring

the principal power spring of a mechanism, esp in a watch or clock
References in classic literature ?
If I was to go, that 'ouse would run down like a watch with the mainspring out.
That this dog and White Fang should come together was inevitable, and for a week the anticipated fight was the mainspring of conversation in certain quarters of the town.
It will probably now be evident that the mainspring of the undeniable and volcanic power of 'Sartor Resartus' (and the same is true of Carlyle's other chief works) is a tremendous moral conviction and fervor.
In spite of the gulf set between us, you will still be the mainspring of all my actions, and all the virtues are inspired by penitence and love.
The mainspring is vanity, assisted by the love of garlic and bread and butter.
Had that piquant gipsy face been at the bottom of the crime, or was it the baser mainspring of money?
I'll tell you, then," he said with heat, "I imagine the mainspring of all our actions is, after all, self-interest.
He believed almost with devoutness in the plot which he had detected for the spoliation of Lord Wetherby's summer-house, that plot of which he held Lord Dawlish to be the mainspring.
Perhaps this had Originally been the mainspring of the understanding between them.