- Mar 2017
Among the manifestations of his diseased ambition was a fondness he had for receiving visits from certain ambiguous-looking fellows in seedy coats, whom he called his clients. Indeed I was aware that not only was he, at times, considerable of a ward-politician, but he occasionally did a little business at the Justices’ courts, and was not unknown on the steps of the Tombs. I have good reason to believe, however, that one individual who called upon him at my chambers, and who, with a grand air, he insisted was his client, was no other than a dun, and the alleged title-deed, a bill.
The word "dun" is defiined as, "noun 2. a person, esp a hired agent, who importunes another for the payment of a debt<br> Melville relates how the business, legal, and government worlds of Wall Street are combined within the character of Nippers, as he seemed to have been involved in Wall Street politics that incurred debts to be paid. This mingles with Thoreau's idea of government as a legally binding, debt-incurring instrument.