The very conditions on which he had held power: the necessity of having behind him a crowd of greedy appetites whose longings he must satisfy, of maintaining himself in his position by dint of abusing his credit, had made his fall merely a question of time.
And he now recalled the slow efforts of his band, whose sharp teeth had day by day nibbled away some of his authority. They had thronged around him, hung on to his knees, then to his breast, then to his throat, and finally they had choked him. They had availed themselves of him in every way.
They had used his feet to climb with, his hands to plunder with, his jaws to devour with. They had, so to say, used his body as their own, used it for their personal gratification, indulging in every fancy without a thought of the morrow. And now, having drained his body, and hearing its frame-work crack, they abandoned him like rats, whom instinct warns of the approaching collapse of a house, the foundations of which they have undermined.
They were all sleek and flourishing, and they were already battening upon someone else.
Émile Zola - Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (1876)