And so it is, and for his rule over his family, and for his conduct to wife and children—subjects over whom his power is monarchical—any one who watches the world must think with trembling sometimes of the account which many a man will have to render. For in our society there’s no law to control the King of the Fireside. He is master of property, happiness—life almost. He is free to punish, to make happy or unhappy—to ruin or to torture. He may kill a wife gradually, and be no more questioned than the Grand seignior who drowns a slave at midnight. He may make slaves and hypocrites of his children; or friends and freemen; or drive them into revolt and enmity against the natural law of love. I have heard politicians and coffee-house wiseacres talking over the newspaper, and railing at the tyranny of the French King, and the Emperor, and wondered how these (who are monarchs, too, in their way) govern their own dominions at home, where each man rules absolute. When the annals of each little reign are shown to the Supreme Master, under whom we hold sovereignty, histories will be laid bare of household tyrants as cruel as Amurath, and as savage as Nero, and as reckless and dissolute as Charles.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.