a clean conscience is a good pillow

There are a number of traditional ways of expressing the notion that a clear conscience enables its possessor to sleep soundly, even, as a well-attested variant claims, through a thunderstorm—as in c 1605 SHAKESPEARE Macbeth IV. i. 85 I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, And sleep in spite of thunder. Cf. Ger. Gut Gewissen ist ein sanftes Ruhekissen; Fr. Une conscience pure est un bon oreiller.

1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 14 A safe Conscience makes a sound Sleep.

1747 B. FRANKLIN Poor Richard’s Almanack (July) A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder.

1902 F. E. HULME Proverb Lore 216 A good conscience makes an easy couch.

1929 ‘P. OLDFELD’ Alchemy Murder ii. 18 [The bed] was hard and cold, and he found poor comfort in a copybook maxim which came back vaguely to him—something about a good conscience providing the softest pillow for a weary head.

1992 MIEDER Dict. American Proverbs 112 A clean conscience is a good pillow.


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