The words quoted above is uttered by Catherine to the housewifeI’m going to tell it—but take care not to smile at any part of it.
("Wuthering Heights," Chapter 9, Project Gutenberg
Nelly Dean. Cathy has just said yes to the proposal by Edgar Linton.
Loving Heathcliff passionately, she wonders whether she is really
guiltless in marrying Edgar. So she is about to confess all her
troubles and hesitations to Nelly, telling her "not to smile."
Here, by the word "smile," Cathy evidently means "smile
in a manner that makes fun of her." She doesn't want Nelly
to laugh at her.
Here are my questions:
(1) When not accompanied with an adjective (such as wry) or adverb,
does the word "smile" always mean something positive in today's English?
I mean, in contemporary standard English, does "smile" (when not accompanied
with a modifier) always mean "smile in a favorable way, such as smile because
you're happy, smile because the person you're talking to is happy or amusing
(in a positive sense)"?
(2) Again, when not accompanied with an adjective or adverb, did
the word "smile" sometimes mean something negative
just like in this case with Cathy, in the English of old times?
(3) Does anybody know when the word "smile" come to
mean something positive at all times when not accompanied
with an adjective or adverb?