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The 1820 Rising
The Radical War
Spirit of the Union

A timely warning against the infiltration by Government Agents into the Radical Movement was published in the Radical Newspaper ‘Spirit of the Union’ on 1st January 1820.


The Public cannot be too much on their guard against the designs of spies and incendiaries, who are prowling about to entrap the unwary; and thereby subject innocent people to much trouble and inconvenience, if not to unmerited punishment. We are led to give this caution, from a circumstance which took place a few days ago.

Two well-dressed people (not Radicals of course) the one about five feet seven inches high, of a fair complexion having a brown coat on; the other about five feet eight, of a dark complexion, and stout make, wearing a blue coat, called at a grocer’s shop in Hutcheson-town, and after some conversation with the landlord, one of them drew a pike head from his side pocket, presented it to the landlord, and wished him to take it as a present to defend his property, promising at the same time to bring him another of a different construction, which by being wielded expertly, would, he said, take off a head very quickly. The one presented was about seventeen inches long, of a square form, finely polished, and sharpened at the point, having a hook on the one side and a piece of iron, about three or four inches projecting on the opposite side.

The landlord told his kind visitors that he had no use for such weapons, as he never was trained to the use of arms, and was in no fear about his property being plundered. The generous-hearted sons meeting with such an ungracious reception, sneaked off, cursing in their hearts, no doubt, the unthankful fellow who would not swallow the bait which they had so kindly gilded for him. From their dress, their appearance, and their conduct, the landlord had no hesitation in setting them down for a pair of spies sent to entrap him into the snare; and had he been silly enough to have taken the pike, there is no doubt that his house would have been searched, and himself dragged to jail to have lain there among a parcel of felons, for God knows how long.

Now, surely, it must be a most wretched system which can tolerate and encourage such conduct as this; for who in their sober senses can, for a moment, suppose that any other than spies would go to a stranger and make such an offer? Scarcely any man who has the least regard for his own safety would offer such a thing to his most intimate friend, far less to an utter stranger whom he had never before seen. The people are branded as seditious, traitorous, and rebellious; but, good God! who are the exciters to sedition, treason, and rebellion? But they are peaceable and patient, amidst all their sufferings and privations; and some pretext must be had for passing such tyrannical and cruel laws as are now passing by our wise Legislature. Therefore, rather than want treason to fill up green bags, the pious supporters of the blessed system of taxes, tythes, starvation laws, gags and dungeons, must manufacture it for themselves; and commission their infernal agents, to disseminate it gratis, among a suffering and patient people.

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