MR. GOSCHEN introduced his second budget on March 26th, 1888, at so early a date that he was obliged to estimate the figures of the last week of the expiring year. The result of that year turned out to be a surplus of £2,378,000 (corrected figures given subsequently) instead of the estimated surplus of £289,000; but the reproach of over-cautious estimates, which was with a certain justice levelled against Mr. Goschen on some subsequent occasions, hardly explained this surplus.
Expenditure had been kept down by careful administration which still shewed traces of the influence of that determined economist Lord Randolph Churchill, while, as regards revenue, two items accounted for most of the increase beyond the estimate, excise and stamps. The revenue from beer, perhaps owing to the Jubilee celebrations in a fine summer, had shewn great elasticity, and a record sum of £8,710,000 had been realised. "Stamps, a very promising field," as Mr. Goschen termed it, "for the fiscal reaper," had exceeded the estimate by £1,242,000 (net receipts), of which £988,682 (net receipts) was due to the sensational produce of the probate and legacy duties. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer had remarked on the "steady and average" revenue from death duties. "Since then the probate duty has heaped coals of fire on my head by passing large sums into the Exchequer. Two estates of over three million apiece had fallen in," and one of £1,800,000; windfalls,