“Other Gentiles”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

Other than those with whom the lot of Columbus had been cast, others than the Latin race. Others were also to be urged by the Spirit to go forth on the waters. This calls our attention to the Cabots, whose discoveries were as momentous as those of Columbus.

John Cabot, an Italian navigator who had moved to Bristol, England, came to the conclusion that since the degrees of longitude are shorter towards the pole than at the equator, the shortest route to India would be in a north-westerly direction. King Henry VII authorized him to try. He reached the coast of Labrador, and supposed that he had come to the kingdom of Tartary, just as Columbus imagined he had reached India. This was in 1497.

Sebastian Cabot, son of John, had accompanied his father on this voyage. He continued the explorations after him. The same year in which Columbus found the coast of South America and Vasco de Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, on the way to India, Sebastian Cabot discovered New Foundland and coasted as far south as Chesapeake Bay. He gave England a continent, but no one, at that time, considered his achievement worth while. Nobody now knows even his burial place.

Spirit of God. According to the vision of Nephi, it was the Spirit of God that prompted first Columbus and then the Gentiles to go forth upon the waters.

That Columbus considered himself inspired is well authenticated history. The following from an enlightening article by Mark Petersen on, "American History and Nephi's Vision," published in the Deseret News, March 25, 1933, proves that he was very much conscious of his divine calling:

"Many biographies have been written concerning Columbus. We take one at random, and quote from 'Columbus, Don Quixote of the Seas," by Jacob Wasserman, translated into English from the German by Eric Sutton and published in Boston:

"On page 18 of this book, Columbus is directly quoted as follows:

" 'From my first youth onward, I was a seaman, and have so continued until this day. Wherever ship has been I have been. I have spoken and treated with learned men, priests and laymen, Latin and Greeks, Jews and Moors, and with many men of other faiths. The Lord was well disposed to my desire, and he bestowed upon me courage and understanding; knowledge of seafaring he gave me in abundance; of astrology as much as was needed, and of geometry and astronomy likewise. Further, he gave me joy and cunning in drawing maps and thereon cities, mountains, rivers, islands and the harbors, each one in its place. I have seen and truly I have studied all books, cosmographies, histories, chronicles and philosophies, and other arts, for which our Lord with provident hand unlocked my mind, sent me upon the seas, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my emprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the HOLY GHOST INSPIRED ME?' "

"On page 46 of the same book, we read that in the year of his success, Columbus wrote upon one occasion to King Ferdinand: 'I CAME TO YOUR MAJESTY AS THE EMISSARY OF THE HOLY GHOST.' "

John Fiske has this to say: "It was no doubt the symptom of a reaction against his misfortunes that he grew more and more mystical in these days, consoling himself with the belief that he was a chosen instrument in the hands of Providence for enlarging the bounds of Christendom." In this mood, Columbus, the historian says, studied the prophecies and attributed his discoveries to miraculous inspiration.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1