The Second Degree of Freemasonry in all the Pites is that of the Fellow Craft. In French it is called Compagnon; in Spanish, Compaņero; in Italian, Compagno; and in German, Gesell: in all of which the radical meaning of the word is a fellow workman, thus showing the origin of the title from an operative institution. Like the Degree of Apprentice, it is only preparatory in the higher initiation of the Master; and yet it differs essentially from it in its symbolism.
For, as the First Degree was typical of youth, the Second is supposed to represent the stage of manhood, and hence the acquisition of science is made its prominent characteristic.
While the former is directed in all its symbols and allegorical ceremonies to the purification of the heart, the latter is intended by its lessons to train the reasoning faculties and improve the intellectual powers.
Before the eighteenth century, the great Body of the Fraternity consisted of Fellow Crafts, who are designated in all the old manuscripts as Fellows. After the revival in 1717, the Fellow Crafts, who then began to be called by that name, lost their prominent position, and the great body of the brotherhood was, for a long time, made up altogether of Apprentices, while the government of the institution was committed to the Masters and Fellows, both of whom were made only in the Grand Lodge until 1725, when the regulation was repealed, and subordinate Lodges were permitted to confer these two Degrees.