Stilton Cheese. To the Editor of The Times
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286 ] Stilton Cheese To the Editor of The Times The Times (29 Nov 1935) 15 Sir, – May I be allowed the pleasure of supporting Sir John Squire’s manly and spirited defense of Stilton cheese? At the same time I should like to add, before it is too late, a few reflections on the project of a statue.1 I do not suggest for a moment that the inventor of Stilton cheese is not worthy of a statue. I only criticize the proposal on the ground of the transitory character of the result. Certainly, all the business of public subscriptions , speeches, broadcasts, the wrangling over designs, the eventual unveiling with a military band, and the excellent photograph in The Times – this is all exciting indeed. But once a statue is erected, who in this country ever looks at it? Even the work of Mr. Epstein is now so familiar to the common man that he no longer stops to ask what it is all about. In a few years’ time the Stiltonian monument would be just another bump in a public place, no more inspected than the rank and file of statesmen, warriors, and poets. No, Sir, if cheese is to be brought back to its own in England, nothing less is required than the formation of a Society for the Preservation of Ancient Cheeses. There is a great deal of work which such a society, and its members individually, could do. For instance, one of its first efforts should be to come to terms, by every possible persuasion, with the potteries which supply those dishes with three compartments, one for little biscuits, one for pats of butter , and one for little cubes of gorgonzola, so called. The production of these dishes could be stopped by a powerful organization of cheese-eaters. Also troops of members should visit all the hotels and inns in Gloucestershire, demanding Double Gloster. (On two occasions I have had to add the explanation : “it is a kind of cheese.”)2 On one other point I disagree with Sir John. I do not think even the finest Stilton can hold the field against the noble Old Cheshire when in prime condition – as it very seldom is.3 But this is no time for disputes between [ 287 Stilton Cheese eaters of English cheese: the situation is too precarious, and we must stick together.4 Your obedient servant,  T. S. Eliot Faber and Faber, Limited, 24, Russell Square, W. C. 1. Notes 1. In response to Théodore Rousseau’s regret at his being unable “to find one of your noblest products, the cheese of Stilton” during a recent visit to London (Times, 19 Nov 1935, 10), the English poet and editor Sir John Collings Squire wrote a defence of Stilton cheese in the issue of 25 Nov defining it as “the prince of all English cheeses” (8). Squire stated: “M. Rousseau wonders why we have not erected a statue of Stilton as the French have erected one to Mme. Camembert. We should certainly do it” (8). 2. Both Single Gloucester and Double Gloucester are traditional, semihard cheeses that have been made in Gloucestershire, England, since the sixteenth century. 3. Cheshire cheese is a dense and crumbly cheese named for the English county where it is produced. In “A Few Recollections of Eliot,” Frank Morley recounts an after-lunch conversation with the cheese-waiter at the Oxford and Cambridge Club: “‘There’s a Blue Cheshire I’ve been saving for Mr. Eliot, Sir – if you and Mr. Eliot were to find it convenient to look in at half-past five, I judge that at half-past five it will be rightly brown.’ Cheese at its moment of perfection was of pleasure to Tom, and when there was a troublesome matter, such as finding a right title for Murder in the Cathedral (which once found, sounds easy enough), a right dry sherry with a right cheese at the right minute might help.” T. S. Eliot: The Man and his Work, ed. Allen Tate (New York: Dell Publishing, 1966), 112. 4. After TSE received numerous replies to this letter from readers, one from G. G. Coulton compelled him to write on 2 Dec “to answer yours in order to acknowledge your precedence as the originator of the project for a Society for the Preservation of Ancient Cheeses. If I should again express myself publicly on the subject I shall certainly make due acknowledgement. You will, I am sure, agree, however...