for he complains even at this time of the stone, of a feeble heart and stomach, and of intermittent fever (ib. vi. 2, 976, 1049, 1063), his moral constitution, apparently, was not more robust, and he could not maintain the expenses of his new position without a good deal of begging. He was in debt as keeper of the great seal, and he complained of poverty as chancellor (ib. 2, 927). As some relief he was allowed, in the quaint language of Fuller, to 'carve for himself the first cut' of the monastic property, the priory of Christ-church in the city of London, which was suppressed some years before the general supression and given to him by patent (ib. vii. 419 (28), 587 (10), 1601 (35)). But it was not quite such 'a dainty morsel' as the historian insinuates, being in fact only surrendered by the prior because it was very much in debt. Nor was the office of chancellor otherwise greatly honoured in Audley's tenure, especially considering who was his predecessor. The lord chancellor, according to the legal theory, is the keeper of the sovereign's conscience, and what the custody of such a conscience as that of Henry VIII involved there could be no doubt, even from the time of his appointment. The first thing he had to do was to sanction what More could not sanction — the divorce from Katharine of Arragon and the marriage with Anne Boleyn; then to assist next year (1534) in procuring a new Act of Succession, and taking the oaths of the Lords and Commons and of the king's subjects generally in conformity therewith (ib. vii. 392, 434). Next he was commissioned, along with Cromwell, to examine his predecessor. Sir Thomas More, whom the court was endeavouring to implicate in the follies and treason of the Nun of Kent (ib. 296). Then, when that failed, he had to examine him touching his refusal to take the oath of succession (ib. 575). It must not be supposed that he was void of humanity. His conversations with More's daughter, Lady Alington, seem to show that he was simply a man of low moral tone, who would have saved More if he could, but wondered why any man should entertain such scruples. 'In good faith,' he said satirically, 'I am very glad that I have no learning but in a few of Æsop's fables,' insinuating that too much learning only gave rise to moral scruples that men would be far better without. And the two fables he immediately after related to Lady Alington with a laugh were distinctly designed to illustrate these principles — that when fools are stronger than wise men it is better to go with fools, and that life is vastly simplified by suiting your conscience to your convenience.
What were his feelings next year when the play developed into a tragedy it is unnecessary to inquire. On 15 June 1535 he presided at the trial of Bishop Fisher, who like More had refused the oath; and on 1 July he presided at that of More himself. His conduct in both these trials is universally reprobated. He was even ready to have passed sentence upon More without addressing the usual question to the prisoner beforehand. In 1536 he conducted Anne Boleyn a prisoner to the Tower, and her supposed accomplices were tried before him, while she herself was brought before the court of the lord high steward and found guilty by a jury of peers. That same year he opened a new parliament with a speech showing the necessity of a fresh Act of Succession and the repeal of some former statutes connected with the marriage of Anne Boleyn. Next year he tried the Lincolnshire rebels at Easter, and the Yorkshire rebels — Aske, Sir Robert Constable, Sir Francis Bigot, and others— on 16 May. Never was so much criminal jurisdiction committed to a lord chancellor. On 29 Nov. 1538 he was created a peer by the name of Baron Audley of Walden, apparently for the express purpose that he might fill the office of lord high steward at the trial of the Marquis of Exeter and other lords, whose chief guilt was being either of the blood royal or in some way connected with Cardinal Pole. In reward for services like these a few more of the suppressed monasteries were granted to him at the general dissolution, among which, at his own very earnest suit, was the abbey of Walden in Essex. It is not true, as stated by Dugdale and carelessly repeated by others, that he asked for this expressly on the ground that he had incurred infamy in the king's service. The words used in his letter to Cromwell are 'damage and injury;' but what sort of injuries he could have incurred beyond the expenses of a prominent position in the state, we are left free to speculate. Walden became his country seat as Christchurch had been converted into his town house. At Walden he constructed a tomb for himself during his own life, and his grandson, Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, built the mansion of Audley End, which is now the seat of Lord Braybrooke.
On 28 April 1539, at the opening of a new parliament, Audley as chancellor made an oration in presence of the king and the assembled lords; and on 5 May he conveyed to the peers a message from the king declaring his majesty's desire that measures should be taken as soon as possible for the abolition of differences of opinion concerning