This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
An English cheese, very choice and dear. It is made small in size and drum-shaped, is cream-colored, and has a rough or wrinkled crust. Just at the time this cheese has become fashionable in the United States it is giving way in England to gorgonzola, the new favorite; the complaint against Stilton being that it is not kept up to the former high standard of quality that made it world-renowned as a dessert cheese. Stilton, it seems, was first made by a Mrs. Paulet, of Wymondham, near Melton Mowbray, who supplied a celebrated sporting innkeeper, named Cooper Thornhill, of the Bell Inn, Stilton. Thornhill got a great name for his excellent cheese, and used to sell it for half a crown a pound, a lot of money at the time. In following English customs in this country it is apt to be forgotten that over there cheese is not thought to be fit to eat until it is "ripe." An intimation of what that means is conveyed in this: "The late Charles Mathews used to tell, with great glee, a little story of Charles Lamb which he vouched for as authentic and believed to be unpublished. One evening Mary Lamb took a sudden and violent fancy for some Stilton cheese for supper, an article of which there was not a scrap in the house.
It was very wet, and getting rather late; but Charles, with that selfdenial which showed itself in a life-long devotion to his sister, at once volunteered to try whether any could be got He sallied forth, and reached their cheesemonger just as the shutters were being put up. In reply to his demand, he was assured that he could have some fine ripe Stilton;' and the shopkeeper proceeded to cut off a slice. As it lay on the scales, Lamb's attention was forcibly arrested by the liveliness of the surface of the " fine ripe Stilton." " Now, Mr. Lamb," said the cheesemonger, " shall I have the pleasure of sending this home for you?" "No, th-th-thank you," said Charles Lamb. " If you will give me a bit of twine, I cou-cou-could p'raps 1-1-1-lead it home! "