breast of the corpse just before the grave was filled up. In the same line above there is a reference to the hanging of pirates and mutineers at the seaside in such a position that the waves at high tide would wash over the body.
It was a curious custom of the time to shave the head just before death. This custom is referred to in Measure for Measure (iv. 2). "O, death's a great disguiser; and you may add to it. Shave the head and tie the beard; and say it was the desire of the penitent to be thus bared before his death: you know the course is common."
The passing bell was originally tolled by the sexton at the moment of death as a help towards the driving away of the evil spirits. It was also expected that whoever heard the passing bell should meditate for a moment on his own sins, and breathe a prayer for the dying.
Subsequently, however, the practice of ringing the bell at the moment of death was given up, though it continues to this day to be rung at