Mann I, Dominic Maria

, an eminent Italian writer, was born at Florence, April 8, 16yO He was early distinguished by great powers of retention, and a strong passion for research into facts, two attributes for which he was celebrated during the whole of his life. He was regularly instituted in every class of literature, but his particular bias was to history, in which he began his career by inquiries into the modern history of his native city. This produced in 1722 his “Series of Florentine Senators,” 2 vols. fol. a work which, under the modest garb of a collection of notices on private individuals, exhibited the most original, authentic, and curious information respecting the public law and government of Tuscany, from the extinction of the line of the marquises, to the creation of the grand dukes in 1332. In 1731 he published a work of yet greater interest, “De Florentine inventis Commentarium,” in which he gave the most satisfactory account of the manufactures which either originated or were improved in Florence; he showed how the art of banking was there first invented; how, in the subsequent times, the art ef engraving also originated there, &c. Among the discoveries made at Florence in the middle ages, there | was one so highly beneficial as to demand * methodical disquisition for itself alone; this was the invention of spectacles, which in 1738 Manni illustrated by his “Historical Treatise on Spectacles.” In this, after a careful examination of evidence, he is inclined to attribute the invention to Salvino Armati.

In 1742 he published “Historical Illustrations of the Decamerone of Boccaccio,” 4to, in which he proves that the greatest part of Boccaccio’s tales were real facts, which occurred in his life. A work of this kind could not fail to be amusing, nor in that country, instructing; and indeed this has been thought one of the best of Manni’s publications. His more elaborate work, connected with the history of Florence and Tuscany, is his “Historical Observations on the Seals of the lower age.” “Osservazioni istoriche sopra isigilli antichi de' secoli bassi,” published in 1749, and originally consisting of 18 vols. 4to, but afterwards extended to thirty. It exhibits the most valuable records of all the illustrious persons who acted a conspicuous part in the vicissitudes of Florence and other great cities of Tuscany. It also elucidates the origin and progress of all the mints of those cities. In 1755 he published his “Method of studying the History of Florence,” which is an account of all the authorities and sources of Florentine history, both printed and manuscript, in which he affirms that the best limited history of Florence is that yet unpublished of the chevalier Francis Settimanni, who wrote on the period which intervened between the accession of the house of Medici, in 1532, and its extinction, in 1737. The only other works he published respecting Florence and its antiquities, were, his “Historical notices concerning the amphitheatre at Florence,” published in 1746; and his “Inquiries into the ancient Thermae of Florence,” published in 1751.

Of the historical works of Manni v relative to other places, and more general subjects, we shall only mention his “History of the Jubilees,” published in 1750, in which he did justice to his subject in a philosophical and political light, by shewing who were the most distinguished persons who had ever visited Rome on those occasions, and how far, on their return to their native countries, they grafted on those countries the manners and practices of Italy. He also illustrated every particular by curious anecdotes, medals, fac-similes, &c. In biography, Manni wrote a | singular work, but perhaps of local interest, entitled “Le Veglie Piacevoli,” &c. or “Agreeable Evenings,” being the lives of the most jocose and eccentric Tuscans. This was published in 1757, in 4 vols. 4to. He wrote also the “Life of the well-deserving prelate, Nicholas Steno, of Denmark,” published in 1775. Manni’s publications, not of the historical or biographical kind, were few, and none of them added much to his fame, except his “Lectures on Italian Eloquence,1758, 2 vols. 4to.

He died at Florence, Nov. 30, 1788, in his ninety-ninth year. He left behind him the fame not only of one of the most laborious and deserving writers of his time, but of a most exemplary moral character. He was particularly distinguished for his zeal and kindness in assisting with his superior knowledge, younger writers who wished to treat on any subject connected with his inquiries. A catalogue of all his works, amounting to 104, was published in 1789, by his friend count Tomitano, a patrician of Feltri. 1


Atbenjewm, vol. IV. —Dict. Hist.