When the hearse arrived at the quiet burial place in Arch street, where the Friends for many generations have buried their dead, six colored men carried the body to its last resting-place, and the silent tear of the son of Africa over the grave of his zealous friend, was more expressive of real affection than all the parade which is sometimes brought so ostentatiously before the public eye. In the expressive words of the leading newspaper of the day, “Aaron Burr was lately buried with the honors of war. Thomas Shipley was buried with the honors of peace. Let the reflecting mind pause in the honorable contrast.”
As a public speaker Thomas Shipley was clear, cogent, sometimes eloquent, and always impressive. He never attempted oratorical effect, or studied harangues. He generally spoke extemporaneously, on the spur of the occasion, and what he said came warm from the heart. It was the simple and unadorned expression of his sentiments and feelings. He was, however, argumentative and even logical, when the occasion required it. When intensely interested, his eye was full of deep and piercing expression.
Although his education had been limited, and his pursuits afforded him but little leisure time, yet he indulged his fondness for reading, and exhibited a refined literary taste in his selections. He has left amongst his books and papers eight manuscript volumes of about one hundred and fifty pages each, filled with selections, copied in his own handwriting, and culled from the writings of many of the most gifted authors, both in poetry and prose.
These extracts are generally of a moral and religious caste, and include scraps from Young, Milton, Addison, Burns, Cowper, Watts, Akenside, Pope, Byron, Hemans, and many others.
In the domestic and social circle, his conversation was animated and instructive, and always tempered by that kindness and amenity of manners which endeared him to his family and friends.
He was no bigot in religion. While a firm believer in the doctrines of the Gospel as maintained by the orthodox Society of Friends, he yet held that religion was an operative principle producing the fruits of righteousness and peace, in all of whatever name, who are sincere followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. In conclusion we may add, that more than most men he bore about with him the sentiment of that old Roman, “Nihil humanum alienum a me puto,” while he added to it the higher thought of the Christian, that he who loveth God loveth his brother also. We need not dwell upon the life of such a man. To-day, after the lapse of more than a generation, his memory is fresh and green in the hearts of those who knew him, and who still survive to hand down to their children the story of the trials of that eventful period in our history.
To the Memory of
President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society,