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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Sir John Davies 1570-1626 John Bartlett

    Much like a subtle spider which doth sit
  In middle of her web, which spreadeth wide;
If aught do touch the utmost thread of it,
  She feels it instantly on every side. 1
          The Immortality of the Soul.
    Wedlock, indeed, hath oft compared been
  To public feasts, where meet a public rout,—
Where they that are without would fain go in,
  And they that are within would fain go out. 2
          Contention betwixt a Wife, etc.
Note 1.
Our souls sit close and silently within,
And their own webs from their own entrails spin;
And when eyes meet far off, our sense is such
That, spider-like, we feel the tenderest touch.
John Dryden: Mariage à la Mode, act ii. sc. 1.

The spider’s touch—how exquisitely fine!—
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line.
Alexander Pope: Epistle i. line 217. [back]
Note 2.
’T is just like a summer bird-cage in a garden: the birds that are without despair to get in, and the birds that are within despair and are in a consumption for fear they shall never get out.—John Webster: The White Devil, act i. sc. 2.

Le mariage est comme une forteresse assiégée; ceux qui sont dehors veulent y entrer, et ceux qui sont dedans veulent en sortir (Marriage is like a beleaguered fortress: those who are outside want to get in, and those inside want to get out).—Quitard: Études sur les Proverbes Français, p. 102.

It happens as with cages: the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out.—Montaigne: Upon some Verses of Virgil, chap. v.

Is not marriage an open question, when it is alleged, from the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are out wish to get in?—Ralph Waldo Emerson: Representative Men: Montaigne. [back]