In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes:

[Reginald]: I’m not going to discuss the Fiscal Question (said Reginald); I wish to be original. At the same time, I think one suffers more than one realises from the system of free imports. I should like, for instance, a really prohibitive duty put upon the partner who declares on a weak red suit and hopes for the best. Even a free outlet for compressed verbiage doesn’t balance matters. And I think there should be a sort of bounty-fed export (is that the right expression?) of the people who impress on you that you ought to take life seriously.

I have several questions regarding the above passage; the emboldened portion of text I do not understand:

What is the "Fiscal Question" that Reginald refers to? From my impressions of Reginald's monologue it appears to relate to tariffs, as also suggested by the title of the story, however is this all it refers to? Researching into the term, I was able to find "The Fiscal Question"(1908) by Andrew Bonar Law, in addition to a Report(1906), that features this particular phrasing however these were published after Reginald(1904), and so did this phrasing appear earlier than Saki's use?

  • 1
    The primary purpose of tariffs was to raise revenue for the Exchequer. The Fiscal Question is how the required revenues should best be raised. Note that at this period, tariffs provided a much higher proportion of Government income than they do now.
    – mikado
    Oct 31, 2020 at 8:46


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