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

John Lyly

The admonition of a true friend should be like the practice of a wise physician, who wrappeth his sharp pills in fine sugar; or the cunning Chirurgeon, who lancing a wound with an iron, immediately applieth to it soft lint; or as mothers deal with their children for worms, who put their bitter seeds into sweet raisins. If this order had been observed in thy discourse, that interlacing sour taunts with sugared counsel, bearing as well a gentle rein as using a hard snaffle, than mightest have done more with the whisk of a wand, that now thou canst with a pick of the spur, and avoid that which now thou mayest not, extreme unkindness. But thou art like that kind of judge which Propertius noeth, who condemning his friend, cause him for the more ease to be hanged with a silken twist. And thou, like a friend, cuttest my throat with a razor, not with a hatchet, for my more honour.

As bad, as what is worst.

Beauty’s a slipp’ry good, which decreaseth
Whilst it is increasing resembling the
Medlar, which, in the moment of its full
Ripeness, is known to be in a rottenness.

Beautie is like the blackberry, which seemeth red, when it is not ripe, resembling precious stones that are polished with honie, which the smoother they looke, the sooner they breake.

As blacke as deepest dark.

Blacke as jeat.

Blacke as the burnt coale.

Gentlemen vse bookes as Gentlewomen handle their flowers, who in the morning stick them in their heads, and at night strawe them at their heeles.

As bright as glow-worms in the night.

Busie as a bee.

I will sticke as close to thee, as the soale doth to the shoe.

Common as scolding at Billingsgate.

Constancy is like vnto the Storke, who wheresoeuer she flye commeth into no neast but hir owne, or the Lapwinge, whom nothing can driue from hir young ones, but death.

As crooked as a cammocke.

It came to passe, that a gentleman … chanced to glance his eyes on her, and there were they dazzled on her beautie, as lookes that are caught in the sunne with the glittering of a glasse.

As much difference as there is between beautie and vertue, bodies and shadowes, colors and life—so great odds is there between love and friendship.

Disagree like clocks.

Disagreeing as fire and water.

In her faire lookes were his thoughts intangled, like birds of canarie, that have fallen into a silken net.

Eyes pe[a]rcing like the Sun beames.

Fatte as a foole.

As fit as a pudding for a dogges mouth.

The malyce of a friend, is like the sting of an Aspe, which nothing can remedie, for being pearced in the hande it must be cut off, and a friend thrust to the heart it must be pulled out.

But as all floures that are in one Nosegay, are not of one nature, nor all Rings that are worne vppon one hande, are not of one fashion: so all friendes that associate at bedde and at boord, are not one of disposition.

Friendshippe should be like the wine which Homer much commending, calleth Maroneum, whereof one pient [pint] being mingled with fiue quartes of water, yet it keepeth his old strength and vertue, not to be qualified by any discurtesie. Where salt doth grow nothing els can breede, where friendship is built, no offence can harbour.

Gravity in a woman is like to a gray beard upon a breaching boise chinne, which a good scholemaister would cause to be clipt, and the wise husband to be avoyded.

Grunted like a pig under a tub.

Hardeneth like the Adama[n]t.

My heart is like a hearth where Cupid is making a fire … methinks Venus and Nature stand with each of them a pair of bellowes, the one cooling my low birth, the other kindling my lofty affections.

Hot as a toast.

As lyke as one pease is to another.

As lykely to obtain thy wish, as the Wolfe is to catch [eat] the Moone.

Loue is likened to the Emerald which cracketh rather then consenteth to any disloyaltie, and can there be any greater villany then being secreat not to be constant, or being constant not to be secret.

Love gotten with witchcraft, is as unpleasant as fish taken with medicines unwholesome.

It is a signe that nothing will asswage your love but marriage: for such is the tying of two in wedlocks, as is the tuning of two lutes in one key, for striking the strings of one, strawes will stirre upon the strings of the other, and in two mindes linked in love, one cannot be delighted, but the other rejoiceth.

Melancholy as a cat.

For as the precious stone Autharsitis beeing throwne into the fyre looketh blacke and halfe dead, but being cast into the water glistreth like the Sunne beames: so the precious minde of man once put into the flame of loue, is as it were vglye, and loseth his vertue, but sprinckled with the water of wisdome, and detestation of such fond delightes, it shineth like the golden rayes of Phæbus.

As neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote.

Opposite as men’s thoughts and their words.

Plaine … as the high way.

The name of a Prince is like the sweete deaw, which falleth as well vppon lowe shrubbes, as hygh trees, and resembleth a true glasse, where-in the poore maye see theyr faces with the rych, or a cleare streame where-in all maye drincke that are drye: not they onelye that are wealthy.

He that commeth in print because he woulde be knowen, is like the foole that commeth into the Market because he would be seene.

Proud as the day is long.

As rare to see the Sunne with-out a light, as a fayre woeman with-out a lover.

Requisite … as steele in a weapon.

Shining like the Sunne in earth.

Smooth as jet.

Soft as silke.

Swallow … as easily as a great pit a small pebble.

Sweet as the sweet tooth of a calfe.

The tongue of a louer should be like the poynt in the Diall, which though it go, none can see it going, or a young tree which though it growe, none can perceiue it growing, hauing alwayes the stone in their mouth which the Cranes vse when they flye ouer mountaines, least they make a noyse, but to be sylent, and lyghtly to esteeme of his Ladye, to shake hir off though he be secreat, to chaunge for euerything though he bewray nothing, is the onely thing that cutteth the heart in peeces of a true and constant louer, which deepely waying with my selfe, I preferred him that woulde neuer remoue, though he reueiled [reveal] all before him that woulde conceale all, and euer be slyding, thus wasting to [o] and fro, I appeale to you my good Violet, whether in loue be more required, secrecie, or constancy.

Tractable as a Sheepe.

I am of this minde with Homer, that as the Snayle that crept out of hir shell was turned eftsoones into a Toad, and thereby was forced to make a stoole to sit on, disdaining hir own house: so the Trauailer that stragleth from his own countrey, is in short tyme transformed into so monstrous a shape, that hee is faine to alter his mansion with his manners, and to liue where he canne, not where he would.

Triumphant in victories lyke the Palme tree, fruitfull in hir age lyke the Vyne, in all ages prosperous, to all men gratious, in all places glorious: so that there be no ende of hir praise, vntil the ende of all flesh.

Weake as sheepe.

Whyning like a Pigge halfe rosted.

White as alabaster.

White as driven snow.

Work like a brick.