As the repetitions of condescension pile up in Pride and Prejudice, the applications become increasingly ironic.
By 1812-1813, however, modern novels are giving the word condescension negative tones that sometimes bring it closer to our modern sense of the word as "patronizing.
From the mid-seventeenth century on, condescension could, on a few occasions, be a bad thing.
Indeed, in contrast to a modern Webster's dictionary's partial definition of condescension as "behavior that is patronizing or condescending," the OED definition, which has not been updated recently, has "courteous disregard of difference of rank.
Later that spring Caroline herself and her defenders use that word repeatedly of her: "There may be circumstances disclosed, manifesting a degree of condescension and familiarity in my behavior and conduct, which, in the opinions of many, may be considered as not sufficiently guarded, dignified, and reserved .
In a twenty-text sampling of new fiction culled from the ECCO database for 1796-1797, using no author twice, the negative side of condescension is not yet too large.
Sixteen years later, novels seem much more suspicious of condescension.
Sometimes the criticism of those exhibiting condescension in these novels, though present, is not severe, as in the anonymous The Ordeal, A Novel from 1813: "There is no effort in Laura's condescension: but I still think one cannot help imagining that it is condescension.