Read Mr Orsam's piece on the Diary, and I really must say it is excellent. It seems then that Mike Barrett was capable of stringing a few sentences together, a far cry from Caz's assertion that he wasn't capable of filling in a sick note! Far worse though, are those posters who did not get to meet Mike Barrett, and blindly led by the likes of Caz cry "Barrett was a drunken sot, not capable of producing the Diary". Or words to that effect. In my opinion, Mike Barrett boxed then up like so many kippers
Letter published in the Lincolnshire newspaper, the Boston Guardian of 9 December 1893, from a J.P. O'Donoghue (referencing the use of John Fox's 'Book of Martyrs'), contains the sentence:
"Yes, he has proudly, - in the last years of the XIXth century, - out-foxed Fox himself."
Thanks, David, but that doesn't seem to be used in the same way. To me, this is saying that someone "did something more 'John Fox-ish' than John Fox himself", like someone might say "Prokofiev's Classical Symphony out-Mozarted Mozart". I don't think it's being used to mean "outsmarted", in the modern meaning of the word.
I can't see that someone at the end of the 19th Century could have been said to "outwit" or "get the better of" John Foxe, who died 400 years earlier.
"In the foreground, too, Bismarck, the astutest of the astute, just laughing as he felt how he had turned the tables upon the cleverest monarch in Europe; how he had outfoxed the oldest fox; and with a single move on the chess-board of war and diplomacy checkmated the king and won all on the board."
Yeah and especially with englands long history of fox hunting I would find it hard to believe that out fox wasn't a rather common expression. Nice try though!
Thanks, Abby, but I was thinking more along the lines of Br'er Rabbit "outfoxing" Br'er Fox. It's not too difficult for a pack of twenty dogs and as many men on horseback to get the better of a wee fox: "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable", as Oscar Wilde aptly described it