12 DECEMBER 1987, Page 16

One hundred years ago

Mr Goschen's presidential address to the Statistical Society on Tuesday, was devoted to proving by a convergent train of indications that the lower mid- dle class has been largely reinforced during the recent years of depression to the richer classes, and to the richer section of the middle class. He showed by the increase in the number of moder- ate incomes assessed under Schedule D, by the increased number of small share- holders in Limited Companies, by the increased number of houses inhabited by this class of persons, by the increased number of the probate duties payable on small properties, and by the increase of small insurances, that while the trade of the country has been suffering so far as the wealthy traders are concerned, it has been improving so far as the small traders and the small traders and the small investors in large concerns are concerned. A more important thesis could hardly be established, though what the proper political inference is, we do not feel quite so sure as Mr Goschen. Do these smaller traders and smaller investors share the impatience and ambition of those who are discon- tented with politics as they are, and who would incur great risk rather than not attempt change? Or do they share the caution of those who, with small gains, learn to fear any of those political earthquakes which endanger small gains even more than they endanger large? We, at least, do not feel that we can answer the question with any certainty.

The Spectator, 3 December 1887