(The old). Marshal Soult was so nicknamed, from his strategic talents and fertility of resources. (1769-1851.) (See Reynard.)
Antipathy to foxes. Speaking of natural antipathies, Shakespeare makes Shylock say:
Some men there be love not a gaping pig, Some that are mad if they behold a cat.
Tycho Brahé would faint at sight of a fox, Marshal d'Albret at sight of a pig, Henri III. at sight of a cat. (See Antipathy.)
“Tutte le volpi si trovano in pellicaria.” —Italian Proverb.
To set a fox to keep the geese. (Latin, “Ovem lupo committere.”) He entrusted his money to sharpers. Fox (That). So our Lord called Herod Antipas, whose crafty policy was thus pointed at, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils” (St. Luke xiii. 32). (B.C. 4—A.D. 39.)
Herod Agrippa I. (A.D. 41-44.) Herod Agrippa II. (A.D. 52-100.)
An Old English broadsword.
A correspondent of Notes and Queries (May 2nd, 1891, p. 356) says: “The swords were manufactured by Julian del Rei of Toledo, whose trade-mark was a little dog, mistaken for a fox.” The usual derivation is the Latin falx, French fauchon, our falchion.
O signieur Dew, thou diest on point of fox, Except, O signieur, thou do give to me Egregious ransom.
“I had a sword, ay, the flower of Smithfield for a sword, a right fox i' faith.” —Two Angry Women of Abington (1599).
(To). To steal or cheat; to fub; also “to shadow” a suspect; to watch without seeming so to do. A dog, a fox, and a weasel sleep, as they say, “with one eye open.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894