"Put the Pellet with the Poison in the Vessel with the Pessel"

“Put the Pellet with the Poison in the Vessel with the Pessel?”

Where does this quote come from?

I’m thinking it must be decades now since I saw whatever movie or T.V. show it was in (I’m certain I didn’t read it- it was definitely spoken onscreen). The quote has always been burned into my memory but I have long since forgotten the source.

While we’re at it, what is a Pessel?

The word you’re looking for is almost certainly “pestle,” which is a tool you’ll find in a laboratory. It’s used with a mortar, which is a vessel (little bowl thing), to grind stuff up.

It’s from the film The Court Jester with Danny Kaye.

It’s from The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye.

Quick response, folks! Thanks!

The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pessel
The flagon with the dragon has the brew which is true.

And isn’t there an alternate version? If memory serves, after learning the difference between the poisoned goblet and the non-poisoned one with a mnemonic verse, Danny Kaye is told that it has been switched, and must learn a new verse with the new order. I believe the above is the final version.

Forgive me, it’s been several years since seeing The Court Jester last.

Sorry Marley23, I should have typed “the vessel with the pestle” as you correctly pointed out.

There were two drinks you see, that they were going to drink before the big duel. Having no legitamite chance of winning without incapaciting his much larger and more skilled opponent, Danny Kaye must put the “knock out drug” of choice in medieval times into his opponents drink. The two large cups (or perhaps mugs would be more accurate) had decorative symbols etched onto the outside of the glasses. One had a dragon, and one had a pestle (and I believe a third had something else before it broke and a new verse had to be quickly learned).

Now that I think about it, I believe the first mug broke because the opponent knew about this chicanery, and the scene before the fight started cut back and forth between Danny Kaye and his opponent, both repeating (to themselves) over and over the mnemonic verses in order to remember which was the right mug to grab.

It’s a very funny movie, too, though not as popular now as it deserves to be. You should definitely find a copy of it to watch. You’d like it.

The BBC comedy show " Allo Allo " had a new version of this , including " the gateau from the chateau " and " the pill in the till". I have tried a quick Google but I cannot find the full version , anyone know it ?

From the IMDB:

Hawkins: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Griselda: Right. But there’s been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!
Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?
Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
Hawkins: A flagon…?
Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
Griselda: Right.
Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
Griselda: Just remember that.

This site has wav files of several scenes from The Court Jester, including “the pellet with the poison”.


Coulda sworn I heard this dialogue on the last episode of West Wing.

There was another take on – believe it or not – an episode of the Monkees.

Really – no cite, I just remember thinking, hey, that’s Danny Kaye’s bit.

I’m almost certain that the idea for this bit actually came from an old Eddie Cantor movie. I think it was Roman Scandals.

In The Court Jester Angela Lansbury is a total babe.
So is Glynis Johns, who later was the mother in Mary Poppins.