These words are spoken by Ebenezer Scrooge in stave 2, "The First of the Three Spirits," of A Christmas Carol, the classic Christmas novella written by Charles Dickens in 1843.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is showing Ebenezer scenes from his past life. At the time Ebenezer speaks these words, he's a much younger man. He's sitting with Belle, the young woman to whom he was engaged many years ago. She has tears in her eyes. Belle says,
"Another idol has displaced me..."
“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoin[s].
“A golden one.”
The younger Ebenezer tells Belle that he's learned that there's nothing that the world treats more harshly than those who must endure poverty. He takes offense at Belle's suggestion that he wants to lift both of them out of poverty so they're never again forced to endure what the world inflicts on the poor.
“You fear the world too much,” she answered, gently. "...I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?"
“What then?” he retorted. “Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then? I am not changed towards you.”
She shook her head.
Ebenezer believes that he can love Belle and still pursue financial gain. Belle reminds him that they became engaged with they were both much younger, much poorer, and much happier. They were happy to be poor, she says. They were content with what they had and happy simply to be with each other.
"You are changed. When it was made, you were another man.”
“I was a boy,” he said impatiently.
Belle is determined to end their engagement. Ebenezer has changed too much from the young man to whom she was engaged all those years ago. "I release you," she says. "With a full heart, for the love of him you once were.”