This volume of letters by Charles Burney, the first to be published since 1991, runs from 1794 to 10 January 1800, beginning with his recovery from a debilitating attack of rheumatism, continuing with the death of his wife in 1796, and ending with the shocking death of his daughter Susanna. Certain leitmotifs, typical of Burney's concerns, stand out throughout the volume: his trepidation over the war with France and its effect on domestic politics, his exhausting
social life, his travels, and his publication of the memoirs of the poet and lyricist Metastasio.
A staunch monarchist and a self-confessed 'allarmist', Burney is haunted 'day and night' by the French Revolution and the threat that Republican France poses to 'religion, morals, liberty, property, & life'. He frets frequently over those he considers to be domestic Jacobins, a word he uses forty-seven times in the course of the volume to describe anyone whose politics differ from his own conservative values.
Although Burney turns sixty-eight in April 1794, in this volume he barely slows down his habitual hectic pace of teaching and publishing. In the summer of 1795, he publishes his final book, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Abate Pietro Metastasio, despite a hectic social life that sees him hobnobbing with the elite in society and politics and a love of travel that takes him to the homes of friends in Hampshire and Cheshire and into his past on a nostalgic visit to Shrewsbury,
his childhood home.