E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To give the wall. Nathaniel Baileys explanation of this phrase is worth perpetuating. He says it is a compliment paid to the female sex, or those to whom one would show respect, by letting them go nearest the wall or houses, upon a supposition of its being the cleanest. This custom, he adds, is chiefly peculiar to England, for in most parts abroad they will give them the right hand, though at the same time they thrust them into the kennel.
To take the wall. To take the place of honour, the same as to choose the uppermost rooms at feasts. (Matt. xxiii. 6.) At one time pedestrians gave the wall to persons of a higher grade in society than themselves.
I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montagues.Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, i. 1.
To go to the wall. To be put on one side; to be shelved. This is in allusion to another phrase, Laid by the walli.e. dead but not buried; put out of the way.
To hang by the wall. To hang up neglected; hence, not to be made use of. (Shakespeare: Cymbeline, iii. 4.)