These changes took their toll on Eliot, but throughout these years his editing is a model of tact and meticulousness. Difficult contributors are dealt with forbearingly, dull would-be contributors are rejected courteously, late contributors are encouraged subtly. Eliot associated a few others with the editorial line of the journal (Orlo Williams, Herbert Read, Bonamy Dobrée and F. S. Flint), and he was careful to explain to Richard Aldington (on this occasion, a difficult contributor) that this inner group was bound together by a kind of "cabinet responsibility" which demanded discipline:
You see, I try to be very careful — I do not say that I always succeed —not to express in the Criterion any opinions of my own with which others of our more important colleagues would be in real opposition. If I want to say such things, I try to say them elsewhere; even in The Times I can say things which I would not say in the Criterion. And it seems to me only fair to ask the same of my colleagues; and when I say things myself in the Criterion which do not represent the consensus of opinion I want them to criticise me for it. For I am aware that even when I write things signed by my own name, if I print them in the Criterion it will be assumed that they represent not only my own personal views but the official views of the paper.
All the conscious diplomacy demanded of Eliot by the fact that the Criterion did not "represent the finest siftings of my own taste" (as he put it to Ezra Pound) must at times have weighed heavily on him, and so it is not surprising to find him admonishing Pound: "For God's sake don't start another review... All reviews are worse than useless." That exasperation with the business of setting up and running a literary review is also detectable in a public reprimand to Arnold Bennett, who with the insouciance of the very rich had deplored the fewness of literary periodicals before blandly inquiring "But who is to pay for them?":
I should like to tell Mr Bennett, in reply, exactly how such periodicals as he likes are at present paid for. There are four "payments", and of these the smallest payment is that made by the person who buys a copy. The people who pay are the enlightened patron of intellect, who pays in money; the enterprising publisher, who pays in labour and worry, and perhaps in money too; and finally the contributors, who "pay" by being underpaid.
Clearly, the passage of over 80 years has not brought about great changes in the economics of the publication of literary magazines.