1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Soumet, Alexandre

SOUMET, ALEXANDRE (1788–1845), French poet, was born on the 8th of February 1788 at Castelnaudary, department of Aude. His father wished him to enter the army, but an early-developed love of poetry turned the boy’s ambition in other directions. He was an admirer of Klopstock and Schiller, then little known in France, and reproached Mme de Stael with lack of enthusiasm for her subject in De l’Allemagne. Soumet came to Paris in 1810, and some poems in honour of Napoleon secured his nomination as auditor of the Conseil d’État. His well-known elegy La Pauvre fille appeared in 1814, and two successful tragedies produced in 1822, Clytemnestre and Saill, secured his admission to the Academy in 1824. Jeanne d’Arc (1825) aroused great enthusiasm, and was the best of his plays. Among his other pieces Elisabeth de France (1828), a weak imitation of Schiller’s Don Carlos, may be noted, but Soumet’s real bent was towards epic poetry. His most considerable work is a poem inspired by Klopstock, La Divine épopée, which describes the descent of Christ into Hades. Under Louis XVIII. he became librarian of Saint-Cloud, and subsequently was transferred to Rambouillet and to Compiegne. He died on the 30th of March 1845, leaving an unfinished epic on Jeanne d’Arc. His daughter Gabrielle (Mme Beauvain d’Altenheim) had collaborated with him in some of his later works.