In former times great objects were attained by great work. When evils were to be reformed, reformers set about their heavy task with grave decorum and laborious argument. An age was occupied in proving a grievance, and philosophical researches were printed in folio pages, which it took a life to write, and an eternity to read. We get on now with a lighter step, and quicker: ridicule is found to be more convincing than argument, imaginary agonies touch more than true sorrows, and monthly novels convince when learned quartos fail to do so. If the world is to be set right, the work will be done by shilling numbers.
From Anthony Trollope, The Warden, first published 1855. I quote from the London 1976 ed.