A Dictionary of the English Language
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Gall (noun)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 879, 880

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 879, 880

Gall. n.s. [ʒeala, Saxon; galle, Dutch.]

  1. The bile; an animal juice remarkable for its supposed bitterness.

            Come to my woman's breast,
    And take my milk for gall, you murth'ring ministers!

    A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
    Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

        It drew from my heart all love,
    And added to the gall.
    Shakespeare's King Lear.

    This position informs us of a vulgar errour, terming the gall bitter, as their proverb more peremptorily implies, It's as bitter as gall; whereas there's nothing gustable sweeter; and what is most unctuous must needs partake of a sweet savour. Harvey on Consumptions.

    Gall is the greatest resolvent of curdled milk: Boerhaave has given at a time one drop of the gall of an eel with success. Arbuthnot on Diet.

  2. The part which contains the bile.

    The married couple, as a testimony of future concord, did cast the gall of the sacrifice behind the altar. Brown's Vu. Err.

  3. Any thing extremely bitter.

            Thither write, my queen,
    And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
    Though ink he made of gall.
    Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

              Poison be their drink!
    Gall, worse than gall, the daintiest meat they taste!

    She still insults, and you must still adore;
    Grant that the honey's much, the gall is more.
    Dryd. Juv.

  4. Rancour; malignity.

    They did great hurt unto his title, and have left a perpetual gall in the mind of the people. Spenser's State of Ireland.

  5. A slight hurt by fretting off the skin. [From the verb.]

    This is the fatalest wound of the tongue, carries least smart, but infinitely more of danger; and is as much superior to the former, as a gangrene is to a gall or scratch: this may be sore and vexing, but that stupifying and deadening. Government of the Tongue, s. 8.

  6. Anger; bitterness of mind.

    Suppose your hero were a lover,
    Though he before had gall and rage;
    He grows dispirited and low,
    He hates the fight, and shuns the blow.

  7. [From galla.]

    Galls or galnuts are a kind of preternatural and accidental tumours, produced on various trees; but those of the oak only are used in medicine. We have two kinds, the Oriental and the European galls: the Oriental are brought from Aleppo, of the bigness of a large nutmeg, with tubercles on their surface, of a very firm and solid texture, and a disagreeable, acerb, and astringent taste. The European galls are of the same size, with perfectly smooth surfaces: they are light, often spongy, and cavernous within, and always of a lax texture. They have a less austere taste, and are of much less value than the first sort, both in manufactures and medicine. The general history of galls is this: an insect of the fly kind, for the safety of her young, wounds the branches of the trees, and in the hole deposites her egg: the lacerated vessels of the tree discharging their contents, form a tumour or woody case about the hole, where the egg is thus defended from all injuries. This tumour also serves for the food of the tender maggot, produced from the egg of the fly, which, as soon as it is perfect, and in its winged state, gnaws its way out, as appears from the hole found in the gall; and where no hole is seen on its surface, the maggot, or its remains, are sure to be found within, on breaking it. It has been observed, that the oak does not produce galls in cold countries: but this observation should be confined to the medicinal galls; for all those excrescencies which we find on this tree in our own woods, and call oak-apples, oak-grapes, and oak-cones, are true and genuine galls, though less firm in their texture. The true reason of the hard ones not being produced with us, seems to be that we want the peculiar species of insect to which they owe their origin, which is a fly of the ichneumon kind, only found in hot countries. The species of fly that occasions, by its punctures, the soft galls of France and Italy, is different both from the Syrian one and from ours, though still of the ichneumon kind; and we find the several kinds, which occasion the different galls in our own kingdom, produce different kinds, and those of different degrees of hardness, on the same tree. Galls are used in making ink, and in dying and dressing leather, and many other manufactures. In medicine they are very astringent, and good under proper management. Hill.

    Besides the acorns, the oak beareth galls, oak-apples, and oak-nuts. Bacon's Natural History, № 635.

    Malpighi, in his treatise of galls, under which name he comprehends all preternatural and morbose excrescences, demonstrates that all such excrescences, where any insects are found, are excited by some venenose liquor, which, together with their eggs, such insects shed. Ray on the Creation.

    The Aleppo galls, wherewith we make ink, are no other than cases of insects, which are bred in them. Derham.

Sources: Allestree, Richard (89) · Arbuthnot, John (227) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Browne, Thomas (203) · Shakespeare's Cymbeline (73) · Derham, William (22) · Dryden, John (788) · Harvey, Gideon (42) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2 (49) · Hill, John (29) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Prior, Matthew (162) · Ray, John (59) · Spenser, Edmund (254)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Gall (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 5, 2013. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/gall-noun/.

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