No: goodbye emerged during the latter part of the sixteenth century, first heard in syllables jotted down in a letter by a grumpy poet-with-attitude, whose verse was laboured and execrable, but who was a jolly good crafter of words.
Gabriel Harvey picked fights with other poets. He wanted to be known as “The Inventour of the English hexameter.” His verse was laboured:
"Shutt upp the wyndowes of your eies awhile, And open the gates of your eares a myle. But by your leave a litle her must firste goe pisse, And then that her pen hath to say is this..."
But one thing he could do, and he did well.
He was a wordsmith. He made up cracking words. In fact he was cited as a creator of words by a rival and, much later, a modern etymologist. The calibre of his words was pooh-poohed by the man he regularly clashed words with. These words, jeered Thomas Nash, would not stand the test of time.
Try them. Roll them round the palette a little. Harvey came up with conscious; extensively; idiom; notoriety, and gloriously, rascality.
They’re still here. Etymologist Robert Hendrickson credits every one of the words which has lasted four hundred years, and some, to Harvey.
And then there’s godbwye.
The first instance of the word goodbye lies there in his tortured verse, in 1573: “To requite your gallonde of godbwyes , I regive you a pottle of howedyes.”
Godbwye. The spelling leaves us much closer to that sentiment, the old ‘God be with you.’
In every profound goodbye lies something more. The wish that when someone has left you, that the music of the spheres speed them on their way. That happiness will be theirs, though they no longer walk alongside you.
In the old days a man might get on a ship and simply never come back.
How yawning those goodbyes must have been! Readers of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will know the uncompromising, unbending clergyman St John Rivers: whose two sisters had lived with him all their lives on the Yorkshire moors, and who suddenly, and quite deliberately, set sail for India, leaving them in the certainty that he would never see them again.
Before jet planes, a journey across the world was a one way ticket. Yet still the traveller’s loved ones yearned that they be safe; that they make a happy ending.
I am walking like a wraith through the place I have worked for five years, because tomorrow I shall wish many of them Godbwye.
I am already not there, in that subtle way which happens when people know you are no longer a permanent state of affairs, and close in to fill the void before you are fully gone.
My computer has been cleared, my drawers scoured. My pupils know, finally, that tomorrow morning I shall come once more and then not return. Gifts have been bought for those special souls who have filled my days with my favourite thing: surprise.
The dearest souls come from the strangest quarters. Each adult, every child is a shadow walking off and away on another trajectory, possibility mixed with probability, a life not yet lived, followed by my ineffectual godbwye.
It is time to close the chapter and walk away.
And head purposefuly for a pottle of howedyes.
Image source: From Old Books.Org