John Mitchell was the Collector of the Excise Service in Dumfries and was a good friend and supporter of Robert Burns. The following verses were written by Robert Burns at the end of 1795 at a time when the poet was in terminal declining health and tormented with money worries.
"FRIEND o’ the Poet, tried and leal, Wha, wanting thee, might beg, or steal:
Alake! Alake! the meikle Deil Wi' a' his witches Are at it, skelpin! jig an' reel,
In my poor pouches.
Fu' fain I, modestly, wad hint it, That ONE POUND, ONE, I sairly want it;
If wi' the hizzie down ye sent it, It would be kind;
And while my heart wi' life-blood dunted, I'd bear 't in mind.
So may the AULD YEAR gang out moaning, To see the New come, laden, groaning,
With double plenty o'er the loaning, To THEE and THINE;
DOMESTIC PEACE and COMFORT crowning The hail DESIGN.
Hogmanai eve: 1795.
Ye've heard this while how I've been licket, And by fell Death ‘maist nearly nicket;
Grim loon! he gat me by the fecket, And sair he sheuk;
But by guid luck, I lap a wicket, And turn'd a neuk.
But by that HEALTH, I've got a share o't! And by that LIFE, I'm promis'd mair o't!
My hale and weel I'll take a care o't A tentier way:
So fareweel, FOLLY, hilt and hair o't, For ance and ay!"