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December 31.

The following review of the year and situation, was published in the Richmond Examiner of this day:

To-day closes the gloomiest year of our struggle. No sanguine hope of intervention buoys up the spirits of the confederate public as at the end of 1861. No brilliant victory like that of Fredericksburgh encourages us to look forward to a speedy and successful termination of the war, as in the last weeks of 1862. Meade has been foiled, and Longstreet has had a partial success in Tennessee; but Meade's advance was hardly meant in earnest, and Bean's Station is a poor set-off to the loss of the gallant men who fell in the murderous assault on Knoxville. Another daring Yankee raid has been carried out with comparative impunity to the invaders, and timorous capitalists may well pause before they nibble at eligible investments in real estate situated far in the interior. That interior has been fearfully narrowed by the Federal march through Tennessee, and owing to the deficiencies of our cavalry service, Lincoln's squadrons of horse threaten to be as universal a terror, as pervasive a nuisance, as his squadrons of gun-boats were some months since. The advantages gained at Chancellorsville and Chickamauga have had heavy counterpoises. The one victory led to the fall of Jackson and the deposition of Hooker, the other led first to nothing and then to the indelible disgrace of Lookout Mountain. The Confederacy has been cut in twain along the line of the Mississippi, and our enemies are steadily pushing forward their plans for bisecting the eastern moiety. No wonder, then, that the annual advent of the reign of mud is hailed by all classes with a sense of relief — by those who think and feel aright, as a precious season to prepare for trying another fall with our potent adversary.

Meanwhile the financial chaos is becoming wilder and wilder. Hoarders keep a more resolute grasp than ever on the necessaries of life. Non-producers, who are at the same time non-speculators, are suffering more and more. What was once competence has become poverty, poverty has become penury, penury is lapsing into pauperism. Any mechanical occupation is more profitable than the most intellectual profession; the most accomplished scholars in the Confederacy would be glad to barter their services for food and raiment; and in the complete upturning of our social relations, the only happy people are those who have black hearts or black skins. The cry of scarcity resounds through the land, raised by the producers in their greed for gain, reechoed by consumers in their premature dread of starvation and nakedness. We are all in the dark, and men are more or less cowards in the dark. We do not know what our resources are, and no one can tell us whether we shall have a pound of beef to eat at the end of 1864, or a square inch of leather to patch the last shoe in the Confederacy. Unreasoning confidence has been succeeded by depression as unreasoning, and the Yankees are congratulating themselves on the result, which they hawk about as the “beginning of the end.”

Theologians will tell us that the disasters of the closing year are the punishment of our sins. This is true enough; but a cheap penitence will not save us from the evil consequences. There is no forgiveness for political sins, and the results will as certainly follow as if there had been no repentance. As all sins are, in a higher sense, intellectual blunders, we must strain every fibre of the brain and every sinew of the will if we wish to repair the mischief which our folly and our corruption have wrought. The universal recognition of this imperative duty is a more certain earnest of our success than the high spirits of our men in the field, or the indomitable patriotism of our women at home, from which newspaper correspondents derive so much comfort. The incompetence and unfaithfulness of government officials have had much to do with the present sad state of affairs, but the responsibility does not end there; the guilt does not rest there alone. Every man who has suffered himself to be tainted with the scab of speculation has done something to injure the credit of confederate securities; every man who has withheld any necessary of life has done his worst to ruin the country; every one, man or woman, who has yielded to the solicitations of vanity or appetite, and refused to submit to any privation, however slight, which an expenditure, however great, could prevent, has contributed to the general demoralization. [30] It may be said that, with the present plethora of paper money, such virtue as we demand is not to be expected of any people made up of merely human beings. But some such virtue is necessary for any people whose duty it has become to wage such a contest as ours; and if the virtue is not spontaneous, it must be engrafted by the painful process through which we are now passing. We cannot go through this fiery furnace without the smell of fire on our garments. We can no more avoid the loss of property than we can the shedding of blood. There is no family in the Confederacy that has not to mourn the fall of some member or some connection, and there is no family in the Confederacy which ought to expect to escape scathless in estate. The attempt is as useless, in most cases, as it is ignoble in all. A few, and but few, in comparison with the whole number, may come out richer than when they went in; but even they must make up their minds to sacrifice a part, and a large part, in order to preserve the whole. The saying of the stoic philosopher, “You can't have something for nothing,” though it sounds like a truism, in fact, conveys a moral lesson of great significance. Men must pay for privileges. If they do not pay voluntarily, their neighbors will make them pay, and that heavily. Had those who employed substitutes to take their places in the army refrained as a class from speculation and extortion, they would not now be lamenting the prospect of a speedy furtherance to the camp of instruction. However just their cause, the manner in which too many of them abused the immunity acquired by money has deprived them of all active sympathy.

We all have a heavy score to pay, and we know it. This may depress us, but our enemies need not be jubilant at our depression, for we are determined to meet our liabilities. Whatever number of men, or whatever amount of money shall be really wanting will be forthcoming. Whatever economy the straightening of our resources may require, we shall learn to exercise. We could only wish that Congress was not in such a feverish mood, and that the government would do something toward the establishment of a statistical bureau, or some other agency, by which we could approximately ascertain what we have to contribute, and to what extent we must husband our resources. Wise, cool, decided, prompt action would put us in good condition for the spring campaign of 1864, and the close of next year would furnish a more agreeable retrospect than the annus mirabilis of blunders which we now consign to the dead past.

--Major-General Butler, from his headquarters at Fortress Monroe, Va., issued a general order, dismissing several officers of his command for intoxication.

The rebel steamer Grey Jacket, while attempting to run out of Mobile Bay, was captured by the Union gunboat Kennebec.--President Lincoln approved the “additional instructions to the tax commissioners, for the district of South-Carolina, in relation to the disposition of lands.”

Jefferson Davis having approved the following rule, by virtue of authority vested in him by the confederate Congress, the rebel Secretary of State gave notice thereof:

No passport will be issued from the department of state, during the pending war, to any male citizen, unless the applicant produce, and file in the department, a certificate, from the proper. military authorities, that he is not liable to duty in the army.

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