Introduction to John Evelyn’s Fumifugium

Introduction to John Evelyn’s Fumifugium,” [PDF], Organization and Environment, vol. 12, no. 2 (June 1999), pp. 184-86.

John Evelyn (1620-1706) is perhaps best known today as one of the greatest diarist of the 17th-century England. He is also remembered, however, as one the figures behind the formation of the Royal Society of London in 1662 and the greatest proponent of conservation in his age. In his Sylva, Or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesties Dominions (1664), the first official publication of the Royal Society (a work that went through four editions in Evelyn’s lifetime), he complained of the “prodigious havoc” wreaked on the English forests by the demands of shipping, glasswork, iron furnaces, and the like. He observed,

This devaluation is now become so Epidemical, that unless some favorable expedient offer it self, and a way be seriously, and speedily resolv’d upon, for the future repair of this important defect, one of the most glorious, and considerable Bulwarks of this Nation, will, within a short time be totally wanting to it. (Evelyn,1664, pp. 1-2)

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