The North American Review/Volume 1/Tythingmen

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It would much oblige one of your subscribers, if some of your correspondents would state in your journal, the principal features, and the present practice of the laws respecting Tythingmen, in the different states of the Union, where such laws exist. At present, from the best information I have been able to obtain, they seem to be only partially carried into effect in particular districts. I have heard of some curious cases of oppression by these “Familiars.” It seems most extraordinary, that this most odious branch of police should exist in a few towns only. Is the right to stop travellers on the high-way of the state vested in each particular town? or is this a general law, under which separate towns may act as they choose. Many reasons may be given why the publick attention should be called to these laws; either to remedy partial oppression, or in equity and policy, to propose a system of common restraint. If the majority are of opinion, that force can serve the purposes of religion, that men will be more constant and devout in their attendance on publick worship from being compelled, let these regulations be universally enforced, and doubtless some useful additions might be made from a celebrated code now obsolete. The King of Spain has restored the Inquisition, and it is not for us to say he has not done wisely. There is a restless spirit in man never to be contented. The Sunday, in no part of the world, is at this moment so rationally, devoutly, and decorously observed, as it is in a greater part of the eastern, and in many districts of the middle states. Those who are still desirous of greater perfection, without regarding the propensities of human nature, would do well to recollect a celebrated Italian epitaph on a man who took physic in health: Stavo bene, ma per star meglior, sto qui. I was well, but to be better, I am here. C. G.