I am reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and finally reached the last few pages, but I am stuck with the following paragraph.
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
I can't quite figure out the "quite as well that -- as have--" part. My guess is that it means something like "he thought it just as well that they wrinkle up their eyes in grins, rather than making their faces look uglier", but I might be wrong. Could someone explain the meaning of this sentence and the grammar used here? Thanks!
Edit: I think I'm starting to grasp the meaning now, but I still don't get the grammar...why can "as" mean "rather than"? Is this usage of "as well--as" explained in dictionaries?