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Frank J. Wilstach, comp. A Dictionary of Similes. 1916.

Francis Bacon

Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study.

Ambition is like choler, which is a humor that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped: but if it be stopped, and cannot have its way, it becometh a dust (hot and fiery) and thereby malign and venomous.

Antiquity is like fame … her head is muffled from our sight.

Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt and that cannot last.

Men’s behaviour should be like their apparel, not too straight or point device, but free for exercise or motion.

But certainly, some there are that know the resorts and falls of business that can not sink into the main of it; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room.

Celerity: like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift as it outruns the eye.

If he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm.

Base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark.

Differ most, as salt and sugar.

As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like to humors in the natural, which are apt to gather a preternatural heat and to inflame; and let no prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust.

A mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.

Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgement concur, then it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.

Firm as butchers.

Fluctuant, as the ark of Noah.

Forcible as custom.

Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and again, it is sometimes like Sibylla’s offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price.

The way of Fortune is like the milky way in the sky; which is a meeting, or knot, of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together; so are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.

Honor that is gained and broken upon another hath the quickest reflection, like diamonds cut with facets; and therefore let a man contend to excel any competitors of his in honor, in outshooting them, if he can, in their own bow.

Intermingled like the tares among the wheat.

The distributions and partitions of knowledge are … like the branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs.

Learning is like a lark, that can mount, and sing, and please herself, and nothing else; but may know that she holdeth as well as the hawk, that can soar aloft, and can also descend and strike upon the prey.

Tall men, like tall houses, are usually ill furnished in the upper story.

Monarchy is like a work of nature, well composed both to grow and continue.

Money is like manure; of very little use unless it be spread.

A good name is like a precious ointment; it filleth all around about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.

Natural to die as to be born.

Odd as the gesticulations and antic motions of the Satyrs.

Perish, through their over-confidence, like Icarus.

Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; and which have much veneration, but no rest.

At rest, as the ark in the temple.

Round like wells.

Long and curious speeches are as fit for dispatch as a robe, or mantle, with a long train, is for a race.

States, as great engines, move slowly.

Stand at a stay; like a stale at chess, where it is no mate, but yet the game can not stir.

Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight.

The stage is more beholding to love than the life of man; for as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies; but in life it doth much mischief, sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a fury.

Truth and falsehood … are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.

Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely virtue is best in a body that is comely, though not of delicate features, and that hath rather dignity of presence than beauty of aspect.

Virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Virtuous men … like some herbs and spices that give not out their sweet smell till they be broken or crushed.

A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health; for, in a slothful peace, both courages will effeminate and manners corrupt.

It is good to take the safest and wariest way in general, like the going softly by one that cannot well see.