Statues - Hither & Thither
Little house gnomes fountain
Edmund Renard der Ältere & Heinrich Renard
Fountain with statues and reliefs illustrating the legend the good people who do the work of lazy at night, and the curious tailor's wife.
The little house gnomes are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day. According to the legend, this went on until a tailor's wife got so curious to see the gnomes that she scattered peas onto the floor of the workshop to make the gnomes slip and fall. The gnomes, being infuriated, disappeared and never returned. From that time on, the citizens of Cologne had to do all their work by themselves.
This legend was first written down by the Cologne teacher Ernst Weyden (1805-1869) in 1826.
In 1836 the painter and poet August Kopisch published a famous poem beginning with the words (full text here):
Wie war zu Cölln es doch vordem|
Mit Heinzelmännchen so bequem!
Denn war man faul, man legte sich
Hin auf die Bank und pflegte sich.
Da kamen bei Nacht, eh' man's gedacht,
Die Männlein und schwärmten
Und klappten und lärmten
Und hüpften und trabten
Und putzten und schabten -
Und eh' ein Faulpelz noch erwacht,
war all sein Tagwerk bereits gemacht!...
|Once upon a time in Cologne,|
how comfortable it was with the Heinzelmen!
For if you were lazy, you just lay down
on your bench and took care of yourself.
Then at night, before one knew it, came
the little men and swarmed
and clattered and rattled
and jumped and trotted
and cleaned and scoured -
and even before a lazy bum awoke,
all his daily work was already done!
The German text is on the left of the text panels of the fountain. On the right text panel is the last strophe if Kopisch' poem, where the story of the curious tailor's wife is told.
The fountain was donated in 1899 by the Cologne Verschönerungsverein at the occasion of the 100th birthday of August Kopisch (1799-1853).
edmund und heinrich renard
Kölner Verschönerungsverein, 1899