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Essay on Progress was published in 1866 by James Bowes & Sons. Charles Fenerty wrote this while he was in Australia. Fenerty notes at the beginning of the poem that he originally planned to have it published in Australia but didn’t because he had a business opportunity in New Zealand. He left Australia for New Zealand in the hope of starting a sheep farm. He wrote to his brother Wellington asking if he would join him. Wellington was married and couldn’t. Fenerty soon returned to Halifax to marry Anne Hamilton. Everyone was happy to see him again. The Halifax Citizen newspaper, on August 30th 1866, wrote that they were happy to have Fenerty back and the poem he just published. And that they hope that he’ll continue with his poetry (which he does).

The poem is a glimpse at what man has achieved so far (up to the mid-1800's). Though the poem is about world history (Western for the most part), there seems to be more attention given to the offspring’s of England (mainly Australia and Canada). In the final stanza he writes:

So long, dear England, may thy off-shoots be,
A reflex of thyself, and knit to thee ;
Their pride, while peopling realms from pole to pole,
Thy laws and language still pervades the whole.