Honour is at stake, as Pepys discovered in Fleet Street when - unrecorded by the OED - he "received a great jostle from a man that had a mind to take the wall".
Murder was possible. Something duly avoided in the 18th century, when Dr Johnson recalled that
there were two sets of people, those who gave the wall, and those who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome . . . Now, it is fixed that every man keeps to the right.
That is, takes the wall. Apparently forgotten, let it be enforced on Oxford Street this Christmas.Reuse content