George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

English statesman and poet

George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG, PC, FRS (30 January 162816 April 1687) was an English dramatist, poet, politician, wit and rake.

All true love is grounded on esteem.


  • The world is made up, for the most part, of fools and knaves, both irreconcileable foes to truth.
    • "Letter to Mr. Clifford, on his Human Reason"; cited from The Works of His Grace, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham (London: T. Evans, 1770) vol. 2, p. 105.
    • Variant (modernized spelling): The world is made up, for the most part, of fools and knaves, both irreconcilable foes to truth.
  • She that would raise a noble love must find
    Ways to beget a passion for her mind;
    She must be that which she to the world would seem,
    For all true love is grounded on esteem:
    Plainness and truth gain more a generous heart
    Than all the crooked subtleties of art.
    • "To His Mistress", cited from The Works of His Grace, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham (London: T. Evans, 1770) vol. 2, p. 138.
  • The world's a wood, in which all lose their way,
    Though by a different path each goes astray.
    • "A Satyr upon the Follies of the Men of the Age", line 109; cited from The Works of His Grace, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham (London: T. Evans, 1770) vol. 2, p. 156
  • Methinks, I see the wanton houres flee,
    And as they passe, turne back and laugh at me.
    • As quoted in The Encyclopædia Britannica (1910)
  • O! what a prodigal have I been of that most valuable of all possessions — Time!
    • Last recorded words, as quoted in The Encyclopædia Britannica (1910)

The Rehearsal (1671)

Quotations from The Rehearsal are cited from Simon Trussler (ed.) Burlesque Plays of the Eighteenth Century (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).
  • We might well call this short Mock-play of ours
    A Posie made of Weeds instead of Flowers;
    Yet such have been presented to your noses,
    And there are such, I fear, who thought 'em Roses.
    • Prologue
  • Our Poets make us laugh at Tragœdy,
    And with their Comoedies they make us cry.
    • Prologue
  • Why, Sir, when I have anything to invent, I never trouble my head about it, as other men do; but presently turn over this Book, and there I have, at one view, all that Perseus, Montaigne, Seneca's Tragedies, Horace, Juvenal, Claudian, Pliny, Plutarch's lives, and the rest, have ever thought upon this subject: and so, in a trice, by leaving out a few words, or putting in others of my own, the business is done.
    • Bayes, Act I, sc. i
  • All these threatening storms, which, like impregnate Clouds, hover o'er our heads, will (when they once are grasp'd but by the eye of reason) melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.
    • Physician, Act II, sc. i
  • What a Devil is the Plot good for, but to bring in fine things?
    • Bayes, Act III, sc. i
  • The blackest Ink of Fate, sure, was my Lot,
    And, when she writ my Name, she made a blot.
    • Pretty-man, Act III, sc. iv
  • A Lady that was drown'd at Sea, and had a wave for her Winding sheet.
    • Bayes, Act IV, sc, i
  • I drink, I huff, I strut, look big and stare;
    And all this I can do, because I dare.
    • Drawcansir, Act IV, sc. I

Commonplace book

Quotations from Buckingham's commonplace book are cited from Robert D. Hume and Harold Love (eds.) Plays, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings Associated with George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), vol. 2.
  • Kisses are but like sands of gold and silver, found upon the ground which are not worth much themselves but as they promise a mine near too be dig'd.
    • P. 195
  • There are few have Dana's fortune, to have God and gold togather.
    • P. 221
    • Often misquoted as "How few, like Daniel, have God and gold together".
  • A mans fame and hayre grow most after death, and are both equally uselesse.
    • P. 268


  • Make my breast
    Transparent as pure crystal, that the world,
    Jealous of me, may see the foulest thought
    My heart holds.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher Philaster, Act III, sc. ii, line 144.
    • These lines are used almost unaltered ("holds" becoming "does hold") in Act III, sc. ii of Buckingham's The Restauration, an adaptation of Philaster. They appear with an attribution to Buckingham in many 19th century collections of quotations, e.g. Henry George Bohn A Dictionary of Quotations from the English Poets (1867) p. 63, and hence also on several quotation websites.
  • Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.

Quotes about George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

  • He had no principles of religion, virtue, or friendship. Pleasure, frolic, or extravagant diversion, was all that he laid to heart. He was true to nothing, for he was not true to himself.
  • A man so various, that he seemed to be
    Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
    Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
    Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
    But, in the course of one revolving moon,
    Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon. …
    Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late,
    He had his jest, but they had his estate.
  • The first gentleman of person and wit I think I ever saw.