JEREMY CORBYN is a deeply traditional radical revolutionary. With the patched elbows on his jackets, he is often rudely alikened to a geography teacher, but in his speech on Wednesday, he exhibited his knowledge of a broad range of subjects, including history and English.

He referred to a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the 1819 Peterloo massacre in Manchester, when 15 working-class people demanding greater Parliamentary representation where trampled to death by the hooves of the state as the cavalrymen tried to restore order.

The poem, The Mask of Anarchy, is regarded as the greatest political protest poem in the English language. Shelley was outraged that those who organised the demonstration were imprisoned while those who sent the cavalry charging in were exonerated. He castigated the notoriously harsh Foreign Secretary – “I met Murder on the way - He had a mask like Castlereagh” – and then turned on the Lord Chancellor:

Next came Fraud, and he had on,

Like Lord Eldon, an ermined gown;

His big tears, for he wept well,

Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

In his starry-eyed youth, Eldon, a Newcastle lad, had perpetrated the most famous elopement in North-East history, leaning his ladder up against Bessie Surtees’ half-timbered house in Sandhill, and making off with her in the middle of the night. He became a barrister and in 1792 bought the Eldon estate in south Durham, between Coundon and Sedgefield. He didn’t live there, as he preferred his mansion at Encombe in Dorset, but he often holidayed at the Eden Arms at Rushyford, where drank prodigious quantities of port without apparently suffering a hangover.

Shelley sees Eldon as a stoney-hearted fellow. He was renowned for crying when handing down the stiffest of sentences, as Shelley knew personally. In 1817, Shelley’s wife, Harriet, had drowned herself and Eldon had refused to grant Shelley custody of his own children because of his “immoral and vicious” principles.

These principles including advocating peaceful resistance and calling for representative government.

And so Mr Corbyn is a big fan of Shelley. On Wednesday, he drew attention to lines that he’d read to the crowds at the Glastonbury festival last year. They are among the most powerful lines in the English language, and they inspired one of Labour’s most relevant slogans:

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number.

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you –

Ye are many – they are few.

MICHAEL McLAREN of Witton-le-Wear erupted with fury at last week’s column about conkers. The oldest horse chestnut tree in the world, I said, is to be found the “southern slopes of Mount Etna in Italy”.

“I’ve been to the top of Mount Etna but I wasn’t in Italy at the time,” says Michael. Etna, of course, is in Sicily. “I realise Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy,” he continues, “but anyone visiting Italy will see Vesuvius rather than Etna. A simple correction is required…”

However, to the west of Northallerton there is a rise that is so slight that it cannot even be called a hillock. It is so slight and so easily missable that people once gave it an ironic nickname. I know this because out cycling one day, I propped my bike against a headstone in a neighbouring village’s churchyard and was surprised to read that it had been placed in "affectionate remembrance of Hannah Nicholson of Mount Etna, Ainderby Steeple" who died in 1871.

It would save me from a lava flow embarrassment if someone could find a 4,000-year-old conker tree growing on Mount Etna in North Yorkshire.