The end of this volume finds Eliot and Vivien still tethered to one another, although the marriage is plainly a matter of concern to their relations, as well as to its protagonists. Eliot's sensible and loyal brother, Henry, who had visited the Eliots with his own new wife Theresa in 1926, wrote a long, careful and (for much of its length) painstakingly diplomatic letter devoted to analysis of his sister-in-law which nevertheless did not shrink from concluding that (as many readers of these letters may also conclude):
Nothing interests her more than a discussion of her own faults; they are her precious little offspring, they are interesting, they distinguish her from the crowd, they are indicative of a sensitive and complex organization. As a matter of fact, they are not pathological, they are not interesting, they are simply self-exaggerations of tendencies to be found in the majority of human beings, developed in her by giving rein to all self-control. They are the perversities of a spoiled child.
This letter crossed in the post with one from Eliot himself, in which he urged Henry and Theresa to write "a short line" to Vivien: "This is the more desirable, because she thinks from your silence that you are offended with her, or expressing disapproval." Received just after this plea was posted, Henry's long but finally decisive letter must have made difficult reading. Unsurprisingly Eliot did not write again to his brother for four months. Like the vacancy following Faber's receipt of the letter containing Eliot's idea of the Good Life, this is another eloquent silence.
Distressing though Vivien's condition clearly was for Eliot, it was not an ever-present worry for him, since in these years they spent long periods of time apart. For a while Vivien was confined in a sanatorium outside Paris, and although Eliot visited her, he also spent a good deal of time travelling, not only to Paris but also to Rome and on several occasions to Freiburg. His visits to Switzerland were in connection with his editorship of the Criterion, whose patron Lady Rothermere resided there. The majority of the letters in this volume are related to Criterion business, and they shed light on the care with which Eliot discharged his responsibilities, as well as the occasionally onerous nature of the responsibilities themselves. Over the years of its existence the Criterion changed its title on three occasions, first to the New Criterion, then to the Monthly Criterion, finally reverting to the plain Criterion. Those changes of title reflected underlying changes of ownership, as Lady Rothermere eventually lost interest in the journal and it was taken on by Faber.