The Literary World
Unsigned Article
New York: 11 December 1852


  Frank Freeman's Barber Shop; a Tale by Rev. Baynard R. Hall, D.D.: Scribner. This story belongs to the now extensive Uncle Tom cycle of fiction. It, however, steers a middle course between the abolitionist and the slave-holder. The scene opens on one of the numerous islands skirting the southern sea-coast, occupied by wealthy planters. An old lady dies, her neighbors agree to purchase her slaves, to prevent the separation of family ties, but one is excepted, Frank Freeman, the pride of the plantation, on account of his suspected participation in a recently quelled insurrection. The clergyman of the island, convinced of his innocence, saves him from the clutches of the slave-dealer by a bid of $4,000. Frank is well treated, in a position of influence, and grateful to his benefactor. The latter is summoned to the north by the illness of his mother, and takes his family and Frank with him. He reaches Boston by sea, but a further journey inland being requisite, the master is told on taking his seat in the stage coach that the negro cannot ride with him. Frank is, therefore, perforce left behind, the stage agent promising to provide a conveyance in a few days. Meanwhile he is beset by professional abolitionists who wish to use him as a lion, told that any profession is open to his color at the north, and that he can easily earn $4,000 to refund his kind master. He is tempted by these promises and runs away. The clergyman makes no attempt to reclaim him and returns south. Frank is used extensively on platforms, but left to starve when his popularity wanes, by his abolition associates. The anticipated career of glory merges into the reality of a barber's shop. Here he receives a newspaper announcing his benefactor's death, followed by a letter from a friend of both, a president of a branch Colonization Society, of which the deceased clergyman was also an active member, urging him to go to Liberia. Frank feeling remorse at his desertion of his benefactor, and dissatisfied with his inevitable social position, follows the advice, and finds at last the realization of his aspirations in the Black Republic. The work contains many humorous scenes of negro life, and trading philanthropy, and the style is, throughout, pointed and spirited.