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In the execution of this trust it is our duty to what shall be the relations between the Federal furnish you, as we now do, with an official copy of Government and South Carolina. He has been inthe Ordinance of Secession, by which the State of vested with no such discretion. He possesses no South Carolina has resumed the powers she dele, power to change the relations hitherto existing begated to the Government of the United States, and tween them, much less to acknowledge the indehas declared ber perfect sovereignty and inde pendence of that State. This would be to invest a pendence.
mere executive officer with the power of recognizIt would also have been our duty to have inform- ing the dissolution of the Confederacy among our ed you that we were ready to negotiate with you thirty-three sovereign States. It bears no resemupon all such questions as are necessarily raised by blance to the recognition of a foreign de facto governthe adoption of this Ordinance, and that we were ment–involving no such responsibility. Any at- prepared to enter upon this negotiation, with the tempt to do this would, on his part, be a naked act earnest desire to avoid all unnecessary and hostile of usurpation. It is, therefore, my duty to submit collision, and so to inaugurate our new relations as to Congress the whole question in all its bearings. to secure mutual respect, general advantage, and a Such is my opinion still. I could, therefore, meet future of good will and harmony, beneficial to all you only as private gentlemen of the highest characthe parties concerned.
ter, and was entirely willing to communicate to ConBut the events of the last twenty-four hours ren- gress any proposition you might have to make to der such an assurance impossible. We came here that body upon the subject. Of this you were well the representatives of an authority which could, at aware. It was my earnest desire that such a dispoany time within the past sixty days, have taken pos- sition might be made of the whole subject by Con. session of the forts in Charleston harbor, but which, gress, who alone possess the power, as to prevent upon pledges given in a manner that we cannot the inauguration of a civil war between the parties doubt, determined to trust to your honor rather in regard to the possession of the Federal forts in than to its own power. Since our arrival here an the harbor of Charleston; and I, therefore, deeply officer of the United States, acting as we are assured, regret that, in your opinion, “the events of the last not only without, but against your orders, has dis- twenty-four hours render this impossible.” In con mantled one fort and occupied another-thus alter- clusion, you urge upon me 'the immediate withing to a most important extent, the condition of af- drawal of the troops from the barbor of Charles. fairs under which we came.
ton,” stating that “under present circumstances Until these circumstances are explained in a man they are a standing menace, which renders negotianer which relieves us of all doubt as to the spirit in tion impossible, and, as our recent experience shows, which these negotiations shall be conducted, we are threaten speedily to bring to a bloody issue quesforced to suspend all discussion as to any arrange- tions which ought to be settled with temperance and ment by which our mutual interests may be amica- judgment.” bly adjusted.
The reason for this change in your position is, And, in conclusion, we would urge upon you the that since your arrival in Washington, "an officer immediate withdrawal of the troops from the harbor of the United States acting, as we (you) are assured, of Charleston. Under present circumstances, they not only without, but against your (my) orders, has are a standing menace which renders negotiation dismantled one fort and occupied another-thus impossible, and, as our recent experience shows, altering to a most important extent the condition of threatens speedily to bring to a bloody issue ques- affairs under which we (you) came.” You also tions which ought to be settled with temperance allege that you came here "the representatives of and judgment. We have the honor to be,
an authority which could, at any time withirrethe Very respectfully, your obedient servants, past sixty days, have taken possession of the forts R. W. BARNWELL,
in Charleston harbor, but which, upon pledges given J. H. Adams, Commissioners. in a manner that we (you) cannot doubt, determin: Jas. L. Orr,
cd to trust to your (my) honor rather than to it! To the PRESIDENT of the United States.
This brings me to a consideration of the nature of
those alleged pledges, and in what manner they have THE PRESIDENT'S REPLY.
been observed. In my Message of the 3d of Decem
ber last, I stated, in regard to the property of the WASHINGTON CITY, Dec. 80, 1860. United States in South Carolina, tbat it “has been GENTLEMEN : I have had the honor to receive your purchased for a fair equivalent, by the consent of communication of 28th inst., together with a copy the Legislature of the State, for the erection of forts, of "your full powers from the Convention of the magazines, arsenals, &c., and over these the authors people of South Carolina,” authorizing you toetreat ity 'to exercise exclusive legislation,' has been exwith the Government of the United States, on pressly granted by the Constitution to Congress. It various important subjects therein mentioned, and is not believed that any attempt will be made to ex. also a copy of the Ordinance, bearing date on the pel the United States from this property by force; 20th inst., declaring that “the Union now subsist- but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the of. ing between South Carolina and other States, under ficer in command of the forts has received orders the name of the United States of America, is here to act strictly on the defensive. In such a conby dissolved."
tingency, the responsibility for consequences would In answer to this communication, I have to say rightfully rest upon the heads of the assailants." that my position as President of the United States This being the condition of the parties, on Saturday, was clearly defined in the message to Congress, on 8th December, four of the Representatives from the 3d inst. In that I stated that, "apart from the South Carolina, called upon me, and requested an execution of the laws, so far as this may be prac- interview. We had an earnest conversation on the ticable, the Executive bas no authority to decide subject of these forts, and the best means of pre
renting a collision between the parties, for the pur- | MEMORANDUM OF Verbal INSTRUCTIONS TO MAJOR pose of sparing the effusion of blood. I suggested, ANDERSON, FIRST ARTILLERY, COMMANDING FORT for prudential reasons, that it would be best to put MOULTRIE, S. C. in writing what they said to me verbally. They did so, accordingly, and on Monday morning, the 10th retary of War that a collision of the troops with the
You are aware of the great anxiety of the Secinst., three of them presented to me a paper signed people of this State sball be avoided, and of his by all the Representatives from South Carolina, with studied determination to pursue a course with refa single exception, of which the following is a
erence to the military force and forts in this harbor, copy:
which shall guard against such a collision. He has, To His Ercellency James Buchanan, President of the therefore, carefully abstained from increasing the United Stutes
force at this point, or taking any measures which In compliance with our statement to you yester- might add to the present excited state of the public day, we now express to you our strong convictions mind, or which would throw any doubt on the conthat neither the constituted authorities, nor any fidence he feels that South Carolina will not attempt body of the people of the State of South Carolina, by violence to obtain possession of the public works, will either attack or molest the United States
or interfere with their occupancy. forts in the harbor of Charleston, previously, to
But as the counsel and acts of rash and impulthe act of the Convention, and we hope and be- sive persons may possibly disappoint these expectalieve not until an offer has been made through an
tions of the Government, he deems it proper that accredited representative, to negotiate for an ami-squ should be prepared with instructions to meet so cable arrangement of all matters between the State unhappy a contingency. He has therefore directed and the Federal Government, provided that no re- me, verbally, to give you such instructions. inforcements shall be sent into those forts, and
You are carefully to avoid every act which would their relative military status shall remain as at needlessly tend to provoke aggression, and for that present.
reason you are not, without necessity, to take up JOHN MCQUEEN,
any position which could be construed into the asM. L. Boxhan
sumption of a hostile attitude; but you are to hold W. W. Boyce,
possession of the forts in the harbor, and if attacked,
LAWRENCE M. Keitt. you are to defend yourself to the last extremity. The WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 1860.
smallness of your force will not permit you, perhaps,
to occupy more than one of the three forts, but an And here I must, in justice to myself, remark | attack on, or attempt to take possession of either that at the time the paper was presented to me, I of them, will be regarded as an act of hostility, and objected to the word "provided," as it might be | you may then put your command into either of construed into an agreement on my part, which I them which you may deem most proper to increase never would make. They said that nothing was its power of resistance. You are also authorized to further from their intention—they did not so un- take similar steps whenever you have tangible evidence derstand it, and I should not so consider it. It of a design to proceed to a hostile act. evident they could enter into no reciprocal agree- D. P. Butler, Assistant Adjutant-General. ment with me on the subject. They did not profess Fort MOULTEIE, S.C., Dec. 11, 1860. to have authority to do this, and were acting in their individual character. I considered it as noth
This is in conformity to my instructions to Major
Buell. ing more, in effect, than the promise of highly
John B. Floyd, Secretary of War. honorable gentlemen to exert their influence for tho These were the last instructions transmitted to purpose expressed. The event has proven that Major Anderson before his removal to Fort Sumter, they have faithfully kept this promise, although I with a single exception, in regard to a particular have never since received a line from any one of which does not in any degree affect the present them, or from any member of the convention on question. Under these circumstances it is clear the subject. It is well known that it was my de- that Major Anderson acted upon his own respontermination, and this I freely expressed, not to re- sibility, and without authority, unless, indeed, he inforce the forts in the harbor, and thus produce a had “ tangible evidence of a design to proceed to a collision, until they had been actually attacked, or hostile act” on the part of South Carolina, which until I had certain evidence that they were about has not yet been alleged. Still he is a brave and to be attacked. This paper I received most cor- honorable officer, and justice requires that he should dially, and considered it as a happy omen that not be condemned without a fair hearing. peace might be still preserved, and that time might Be this as it may, when I learned that Major Anbe thus given for reflection. This is the whole derson had left Fort Moultrie and proceeded to foundation for the alleged pledge.
Fort Sumter, my first promptings were to command But I acted in the same manner as I would have him to return to his former position, and there to done had I entered into a positive and formal agree-await the contingencies presented in his instrucment with parties capable of contracting, although tions. This would only bave been done with any such an agreement would have been on my part, degree of safety to the command by the concurrence from the nature of my official duties, impossible. The of the South Carolina authorities. But before any world knows that I have never sent any reinforce- step could possibly have been taken in this direcments to the forts in Charleston harbor, and I have tion, we received information that the “Palmetto certainly never authorized any change to be made ilag floated out to the breeze at Castle Pinckney, * in their relative military status." Bearing upon and a large military force went over last night (the this subject. I refer you to an order issued by the 27th) to Fort Moultrie.” Thus the authorities of Secretary of War, on the 11th inst. to Maj. Ander- South Carolina, without waiting or asking for any son, but not brought to my notice until the 21st explanations, and doubtless believing, as you have inst. It is as follows:
expressed it, that the officer had acted not only
You say :
without but against my orders, on the very next | United States," "much less to acknowledge the inday after the night when the removal was made, dependence of that State,” and that consequently seized by a military force two of the Federal forts you could meet us only as private gentlemen of the in the harbor of Charleston, and have covered them highest character, with an entire willingness to under their own flag instead of that of the United communicate to Congress any proposition we might States.
have to make-we deem it only necessary to say At this gloomy period of our history, startling that the State of South Carolina having, in the exevents succeed each other rapidly. On the very ercise of that great right of self-government which day, the 27th instant, that possession of these two underlies all our political organizations, declared forts was taken, the Palmetio flag was raised over herself sovereign and independent, we, as her repthe Federal Custom-house and Post-office in Char- resentatives, felt no special solicitude as to the leston ; and on the same day every officer of the character in which you might recognize us. SatisCustoms—Collector, Naval Officer, Surveyor, and fied that the State had simply exercised her unquesAppraiser-resigned their offices.-And this, al- tionable right, we were prepared, in order to reach though it was well known from the language of my substantial good, to waive the formal considerations message that, as an executive officer, I felt myself which your constitutional scruples might have prebound to collect the revenue at the port of Charles- vented you from extending. We came here thereton, under the existing laws. In the harbor of fore expecting to be received as you did receive us, Charleston we now find three forts confronting each and perfectly content with that entire willingness, other, over all of which the Federal flag floated of which you assured us, to submit any proposition only four days ago; but now, orer two of them, I to Congress which we might have to make upon this flag has been supplanted, and the Palmetto flag the subject of the independence of the State. The has been substituted in its stead. It is under all willingness was ample recognition of the condition these circumstances that I am urged immediately of public affairs, which rendered our presence neto withdraw the troops from the harbor of Charles- cessary. In this position, however, it is our duty ton, and am informed that without this negotiation both to the State which we represent and to ouris impossible. This I cannot do—this I will not do. selves, to correct several important misconceptions Such an idea was never thought of by me in any of our letter, into which you have fallen. possible contingency. No such allusion had been
“ It was my earnest desire that such a made in any communication between myself and disposition might be made of the whole subject by any human being. But the inference is that I am Congress, who alone possess the power, to prevent bound to withdraw the troops from the only fort the inauguration of a civil war between the parties remaining in the possession of the United States in in regard to the possession of the Federal forts in the harbor of Charleston, because the officer there the harbor of Charleston; and I therefore deeply in command of all of the forts thought proper, regret that in your opinion the events of the last without instructions, to change his position from twenty-four hours render this impossible.” We one of them to another.
expressed no such opinion; and the language which At this point of writing, I have received infor- you quote as ours, is altered in its sense by the mation by telegraph from Capt. Humphreys, in com- omission of a mozt important part of the sentence. mand of the arsenal at Charleston, that "it has What we did say was, “But the events of the last to-day (Sunday, the 30th) been taken by force of twenty-four hours render such an assurance imposarms." It is estimated that the munitions of war sible." Place that “assurance," as contained in belonging to this arsenal are worth half a million our letter, in the sentence, and we are prepared to of dollars.
repeat it. Comment is needless. After this information, I Again, professing to quote our language, you have only to add, that whilst it is my duty to defend say: “Thus the authorities of South Carolina, Fort Sumter, as a portion of the public property without waiting or asking for any explanation, and of the United States, against hostile attacks, from doubtless believing, as you have expressed it, that whatever quarter they may come, by such means the officer had acted not only without but against as I possess for this purpose, I do not perceive how my orders," &c. We expressed no such opinion in such a defence can be construed into a menace reference to the belief of the people of South Caroagainst the city of Charleston. With great personal lina. The language which you have quoted was regard I remain, yours very respectfully,
applied solely and entirely to our assurances ob
JAMES BUCHANAN. tained here, and based, as you well know, upon To Hon. Robert W. BARNWELL, James H. Adams, your own declaration-a decluration which, at that JAMES L. ORR.
time, it was impossible for the authorities of South
Carolina to have known. But, without following SECOND LETTER OF THE COMMISSIONERS TO
this letter into all its details, we propose only to THE PRESIDENT.
meet the chief points of the argument. Washington, D. C., Jan. 1, 1861. Some weeks ago the State of South Carolina deSır: We have the honor to acknowledge the re- clared her intention, in the existing condition of ceipt of your letter of the 30th December, in reply public affairs, to secede from the United States. to a note addressed by us to you, on the 28th of She called a Convention of her people to put her the same month, as Commissioners from South declaration in force. The Convention met and Carolina.
passed the Ordinance of Secession. All this you In reference to the declaration with which your anticipated, and your course of action was thorreply commences, that your "position as President oughly considered in your Annual Message. You of the United States was already defined in the declared you had no right, and would not attempt, message to Congress of the 3d instant;" that you to coerce a seceding State, but that you were possess “no power to change the relations here bound by your constitutional oath, and would detofore existing between South Carolina and the fend the property of the United States within the
borders of South Carolina if an attempt was made did not deny it. You do not deny it now, but you to take it by force. Seeing very early that this seek to escape from its obligation on the grounds, question of property was a difficult and delicate first, that we terminated all negotiation by demandone, you manifested a desire to settle it without colli- ing, as a preliminary, the withdrawal of the United sion. You did not reinforce the garrison in the States troops from the harbor of Charleston ; and, harbor of Charleston. You removed a distinguish- second, that the authorities of South Carolina, ined and veteran officer from the command of Fort stead of asking explanation, and giving you the opMonltrie because he attempted to increase his portunity to vindicate yourself, took possession of supply of ammunition. You refused to send addi- other property of the United States. We will extional troops to the same giirrison when applied for amine both. by the officer appointed to succeed him. You ac- In the first place, we deny positively that we cepted the resignation of the oldest and most emi- have ever in any way made any such demand. Our nent member of your Cabinet, rather than allow letter is in your possession ; it will stand by this on the garrison to be strengthened. You compelled an record. In it we informed you of the objects of officer stationed at Fort Sumter to return imme- our mission. We say that it would have been our diately to the arsenal forty muskets which he had duty to have assured you of our readiness to comtaken to arm his men. You expressed not to one, mence negotiations, with the most earnest and but to many of the most distinguished of our public anxious desire to settle all questions between us characters, whose testimony will be placed upon the amicably and to our mutual advantage, but that record whenever it is necessary, your anxiety for a events had rendered that assurance impossible. We peaceful termination of this controversy, and your stated the events, and we said that until some satiswillingness not to disturb the military status of the factory explanation of these events was given us, we forts, if Commissioners should be sent to the Gov- could not proceed; and then, having made this ernment, whose communications you promised to request for explanation, we added: “And in consubmit to Congress. You received and acted on clusion, we would urge upon you the immediate assurances from the highest official authorities of withdrawal of the troops from the harbor of CharlesSouth Carolina, that no attempt would be made to Under present circumstances they are a standdisturb your possession of the forts and property of ing menace, which renders negotiation impossible,” the United States, if you would not disturb their &c. “ Under present circumstances !” What cirexisting condition until the Commissioners had cumstances? Why, clearly the occupation of Fort been sent, and the attempt to negotiate had failed. Sumter and the dismantling of Fort Moultrie by You took from the members of the House of Rep. Major Anderson, in the face of your pledges, and resentatives a written memorandum that no such without explanation or practical disavowal. And attempt should be made, “provided that no re- there is nothing in the letter which would, or could, inforcements should be sent into those forts, and have prevented you from declining to withdraw the their relative military status shall remain as at pres- troops, and offering the restoration of the status to ent." And although you attach no force to the which you were pledged, if such has been your deacceptance of such a paper--although you “con- sire. It would have been wiser and better, in our sidered it as nothing more in effect than the prom- opinion, to have withdrawn the troops; and this ise of highly honorable gentlemen”—as an obliga- opinion we urged upon you ; but we demanded tion on one side, without corresponding obligation nothing but such an explanation of the events of on the other—it must be remembered (if we were the last twenty-four hours as would restore our conrightly informed) that you were pledged, if you ever fidence in the spirit with which the negotiations did send reinforcements, to return it to those from should be conducted. In relation to this withwhom you had received it, before you executed drawal of the troops from the harbor, we are comyour resolution. You sent orders to your officers, pelled, however, to notice one passage of your letcommanding them strictly to follow a line of con- ter. Referring to it, you say: "This I cannot do. duct in conformity with such an understanding: This I will not do. Such an idea was never thought Besides all this, you had received formal and official of by me in any possible contingency. No allusion notice from the Governor of South Carolina that we to it had ever been made in any communication had been appointed Commissioners, and were on between myself and any human being." our way to Washington. You knew the implied In reply to this statement, we are compelled to condition under which we came; our arrival was say, that your conversation with us left upon our notified to you, and an hour appointed for an inter- minds the distinct impression, that you did seriously view. We arrived in Washington on Wednesday, contemplate the withdrawal of the troops from at 3 o'clock, and you appointed an interview with Charleston harbor. And in support of this impresus at 1 the next day. Early on that day, (Thurs- sion, we would add, that we have the positive asday,) the news was received here of the movement surance of gentlemen of the highest possible public of Major Anderson. That news was communicated reputation and the most unsullied integrity-men to you immediately, and you postponed, our meet- whose name and fanie, secured by long service and ing until 24 o'clock on Friday, in order that you patriotic achievements, place their testimony bemight consult your Cabinet. On Friday we saw yond cavil-that such suggestions had been made you, and we called upon you then to redeem your to and urged upon you by them, and had formed pledge. You could not deny it. With the facts the subject of more than one earnest discussion we have stated, and in the face of the crowning with you. And it was this knowledge that induced and conclusive fact that your Secretary of War had us to urge upon you a policy, which had to recomresigned his seat in the Cabinet, upon the publicly mend it its own wisdom and the might of such arowed ground that the action of Major Anderson authority. As to the second point, that the authorhad violated the pledged faith of the Government, ities of South Carolina, instead of asking explanaand that unless the pledge was instantly redeemed, tions, and giving you the opportunity to vindicate he was dishonored, denial was impossible; you yourself, took possession of other property of the United States, we would observe: 1. That even if have been on your part one continuous, consistent this were so, it does not avail you for defence, for series of actions, commencing in a demonstration the opportunity for decision was afforded you be essentially warlike, supported by regular reinforcefore these facts occurred. We arrived in Washing. ments and terminating in defeat or victory. And ton on Wednesday; the news from Major Anderson all this without the slightest provocation; for, reached here early on Thursday, and was immedi- among the many things which you have said, there ately communicated to you. All that day men of is one thing you cannot say—you have waited the highest consideration-men who had striven anxiously for news from the seat of war, in hopes successfully to lift you to your great office—who that delay would furnish some excuse for this prehad been your tried and true friends through the cipitation. But this “tangible evidence of a design troubles of your administration, sought you and en- to proceed to a hostile act, on the part of the autreated you to act--to act at once. They told you thorities of South Carolina,” which is the only justithat every hour complicated your position. They fication of Major Anderson you are forced to admit, only asked you to give the assurance that if the “has not yet been alleged.” But you have decided, facts were so that if the commander had acted you have resolved to hold, by force, what you have without and against your orders, and in violation obtained through our misplaced confidence; and by of your pledges—that you would restore the status refusing to disavow the action of Major Anderson, you had pledged your honor to maintain. You re- have converted bis violation of orders into a legiti. fused to decide. Your Secretary at War, your im- mate act of your executive authority. Be the issue mediate and proper adviser in this whole matter, what it may, of this we are assured, that, if Fort waited anxiously for your decision, until he felt that Moultrie has been recorded in history as a memorial delay was becoming dishonor. More than twelve of Carolina gallantry, Fort Sumter will live upon hours passed, and two Cabinet meetings had ad- the succeeding page as an imperishable testimony journed, before you knew what the authorities of of Carolina faith. South Carolina had done; and your prompt decision By your course, you have probably rendered civil at any moment of that time would have avoided war inevitable. Be it so. If you choose to force the subsequent complications. But, if you had this issue upon us, the State of South Carolina will known the acts of the authorities of South Carolina, accept it, and, relying upon Him who is the God of should that have prevented your keeping your Justice as well as the God of Hosts, will endeavor faith? What was the condition of things! For the to perform the great duty which lies before her last sixty days you have had in Charleston harbor, hopefully, bravely, and thoroughly. not force enough to hold the forts against an equal Our mission being one for negotiation and peace, enemy. Two of them were empty-one of those and your note leaving us without hope of a withtwo the most important in the barbor. It could drawal of the troops from Fort Sutter, or of the have been taken at any time. You ought to know restoration of the status quo existing at the time of better than any man that it would have been taken, our arrival, and intimating, as we think, your-debut for the efforts of those who put their trust in termination to reinforce the garrison in the harbor your honor. Believing that they were threatened of Charleston, we respectfully ivform you that we by Fort Sumter especially, the people were with dif- purpose returning to Charleston to-morrow afterficulty restrained from securing, without blood, the noon. possession of this important fortress. After many We have the honor to be, Sir, very respectfully and reiterated assurances, given on your behalf, your obedient servants. which we cannot believe unauthorized, they deter
R. W. BARNWELL, mined to forbear, and in good faith sent on their
J, H. Adays, Commissioners. Commissioners to negotiate with you. They meant
JAMES L. ORR, you no harm-wished you no ill. They thought of To His Excellency the President of the United you kindly, believed you true, and were willing, as States. far as was consistent with duty, to spare you un
The following is the indorsement upon the necessary and hostile collision. Scarcely had these
document: Commissioners left than Major Anderson waged
No other words will describe his action. It EXECUTIVE Mansion, 34 o'clock, Wednesday. was not a peaceful change from one fort to another; This paper, just presented to the President, is it was a hostile act in the highest sense, and only of such a character that he declines to receive it! justified in the presence of a superior enemy, and in imminent peril. He abandoned his position,
Doc, 13.-TIE MERCURY'S APPEAL. spiked his guns, burned his gun-carriages, made preparations for the destruction of his post, and To our friends in Florida we would respectfully withdrew, under cover of the night, to a safer posi- pass a word. There are two powerful strongholds tion. This was war. No man could have believed and most important points of military offence and (without your assurance) that any officer could defence in Florida—Pensacola and Key West. The have taken such a step, “not only without orders, States both of Georgia and Alabama have wisely but against orders." What the State did was in taken time by the forelock, and put themselves in simple self-defence; for this act, with all its attend possession of such fortresses as lie within their ing circumstances, was as much war as firing a borders, simply because they do not choose that volley; and war being thus begun, until those their territories should be occupied, their commerce commencing it explained their action and disavowed cut off, and the lives of their people put in jeopardy, their intention, there was no room for delay; and by General Scott's, or Mr. Buchanan's despotic even at this moment while we are writing, it is more theory of the powers and duties of the executive than probable, from the tenor of your letter, that officer of a consolidated, vulgar mobocracy. They reinforcements are hurrying on to the conflict, so have chosen to ward off violence and outrage that when the first gun shall be fired, there will | timely precaution. If any thing could tend to de