This is a French word, pronounced a-ko-say, which Masonically is generally to be translated as Scottish Master. There are numerous Degrees under the same or a similar name; all of them, however, concurring in one particular, namely, that of detailing the method adopted for the preservation of the true Word. The American Freemason will understand the character of the system of Ecossaism, as it may be called, when he is told that the Select Master of his own Rite is really all Ecossais Degree. It is found, too, in many other Rites. Thus, in the French Rite, it is the Fifth Degree. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Thirteenth Degree or Knights of the Ninth Arch is properly an Ecossais Degree. The Ancient York Rite is without an Ecossais Degree, but its principles are set forth in the instructions Of the Royal Arch. Some idea of the extent to which these Degrees have been multiplied may be formed from the fact that Oliver has a list of eighty of them; Ragon enumerates eighty-three; and the Baron Tschoudy, first rejecting twenty-seven which he does not consider legitimate, retains a far greater number to whose purity he does not object.
In the Ecossais system there is a legend, a part of which has been adopted in all the Ecossais Degrees, and which has in fact been incorporated into the mythical history of Freemasonry. It is to the effect that the builder of the Temple engraved the word upon a triangle of pure metal, and, fearing that it might be lost, he always bore it about his person, suspended from his neck, with the engraved side next to his breast. In a time of great peril to himself, he cast it into an old dry well, which was in the southeast corner of the Temple, where it was afterward found by three Masters. They were passing near the well at the hour of meridian, and were attracted by its brilliant appearance; whereupon one of them, descending with the assistance of his comrades, obtained it, and carried it to King Solomon. But the more modern form of the legend dispenses with the circumstance of the dry well, and says that the builder deposited it in the place which had been purposely prepared for it, and where centuries afterward it was found. And this amended form of the legend is more in accord with the recognized symbolism of the loss and the recovery of the Word.
The word Ecossais has several related meanings as follows: 1. The Fourth Degree of Ramsay's Rite, and the original whence all the Degrees of Ecossaism have sprung. 2 The Fifth Degree of the French Rite. 3 The Ecossais Degrees constitute the fourth class of the Rite of Mizraim--from the Fourteenth to the Twenty-First Degree. In the accompanying articles only the principal Ecossais Degrees will be mentioned.
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