A Christmas Carol, Stave Three / Ghost of Christmas Present; Meaning of this Passage:?
But soon the steeples called good people all, to church and
chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in
their best clothes, and with their gayest faces. And at the
same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets, lanes, and
nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners
to the baker' shops. The sight of these poor revellers
appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with
Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and taking off the
covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their
dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind
of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words
between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he
shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good
humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame
to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was. God love
it, so it was.
In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut up; and
yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners
and the progress of their cooking, in the thawed blotch of
wet above each baker's oven; where the pavement smoked as
if its stones were cooking too.
`Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from
your torch?' asked Scrooge.
`There is. My own.'
`Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?'
`To any kindly given. To a poor one most.'
`Why to a poor one most?' asked Scrooge.
`Because it needs it most.'
`Spirit,' said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, `I wonder
you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should
desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent
`I?' cried the Spirit.
`You would deprive them of their means of dining every
seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said
to dine at all,' said Scrooge. `Wouldn't you?'
`I?' cried the Spirit.
`You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day,' said
Scrooge. `And it comes to the same thing!'
`I seek?' exclaimed the Spirit.
`Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your
name, or at least in that of your family,' said Scrooge.
`There are some upon this earth of yours,' returned the Spirit,
`who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion,
pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness
in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and
kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge
their doings on themselves, not us.'
I'm very confused at what Dickens is getting at here. Any help is greatly appreciated!