All Good Things Must Come to an End

A little over two years ago, I began this column with a post on how imperial officials back in the days of the Qing Dynasty wanted to be anywhere other than the Pearl River Delta. It was an unlucky posting for some of the emperor’s brightest stars. It only fits that I end this column with the story of the unluckiest official of them all. Ye Mingchen began the year 1858 as the Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi. He finished that year as a prisoner being shipped off by British forces to Calcutta. It was an ignominious end to one of the Delta’s staunchest defenders.