„Having made an utter failure of my life, I found myself one day, in the midst of my poverty and wretchedness, thinking about the female companions of my youth. As I went over them one by one, examining and comparing them in my mind's eye, it suddenly came over me that those slips of girls – which is all they were then – were in every way, both morally and intellectually, superior to the 'grave and mustachioed signior' I am now supposed to have become. The realization brought with it an overpowering sense of shame and remorse, and for a while I was plunged in the deepest despair. There and then I resolved to make a record of all the recollections of those days I could muster – those golden days when I dressed in silk and ate delicately, when we still nestled in the protecting shadow of the Ancestors and Heaven still smiled on us. I resolved to tell the world how, in defiance of all my family's attempts to bring me up properly and all the warnings and advice of my friends, I had brought myself to this present wretched state, in which, having frittered away half a lifetime, I find myself without a single skill with which I could earn a decent living. I resolved that, however unsightly my own shortcomings might be, I must not, for the sake of keeping them hid, allow those wonderful girls to pass into oblivion without a memorial.“
今风尘碌碌,一事无成。忽念及当日所有之女子,一一细考较去,觉其行止见识,皆出于我之上。何我堂堂之须眉,诚不若彼裙钗哉?实愧则有余,悔又无益之大无可如何之日也!当此,则自欲将已往所赖天恩祖德,锦衣纨绔之时,饫甘餍肥之日,背父兄教育之恩,负师友规谈之德,以至今日一技无成,半生潦倒之罪,编述一集,以告天下人:我之罪固不免,然闺阁中本自历历有人,万不可因我之不肖,自护己短,一并使其泯灭也。

—  Cao Xueqin, Cao Xueqin, as quoted in the introduction attributed to his younger brother (Cao Tangcun) to the first chapter of Dream of the Red Chamber, present in the jiaxu (1754) version (the earliest-known manuscript copy of the novel), translated by David Hawkes in The Story of the Stone: The Golden Days (Penguin, 1973), pp. 20–21
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Cao Xueqin
1724 - 1763
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—  Charles Darwin British naturalist, author of "On the origin of species, by means of natural selection" 1809 - 1882
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