Gillies takes a Chaucerian approach to his Tales, interspersing short chapters on the Voyage with a series of lengthy stories by his companions on this fictional whaler, Leviathan. The stories are either based right at home in England or Scotland, or have an element of the horror story to them.
p. 13: But I left much of the selection of my apparel to my friend William, who had made many inquiries concerning the requisite clothing, amongst those who had experienced the northern climate, while I furnished myself with such books, instruments, and papers, as I fancied I should have occasion to use; for, notwithstanding my present ill health, I had determined to bring back delineations of every object I might encounter, which was worthy of the stroke of a pencil.
p. 62-63: Upon reading over to my friend William the anecdotes which a few weeks afford, we found so much amusement in them, that to please him as well as myself, and with a view of diverting my family on my return, I resolved to continue my ellipsiographic reminiscences during the remainder of my navigation; and it is from these MSS. that I have copied the various digressive relations with which my simple journal is interspersed.
p. 68-9: I found supper ready below, and no lack of gaiety; and we all drank “Saturday night, sweethearts and wives,” with hearty glee—Mr. Shipley, perhaps, excepted, as he was a married man, he was compelled to vary his toast to wives and sweethearts,–a transposition seemingly never made with much cordiality. The faltering tone in which the word wives is uttered, may indeed, be occasioned by tender recollections arising at the time, but I have always judged the cause to be somewhat less sentimental.
p. 112-3: When this business was transacted, Mr. Macrae entered into a doleful account of the Bible Society, which he had attempted to establish at Lerwick, and to which he endeavoured to make the crews of the Greenland ships subscribe. ‘But when,’ said he, with a long face, ‘I got up to make the report of its progress in the kirk last year, all the congregation filed off, and left me alone with the clerk; so the society does not now exist!’
p. 152—describes the modus operandum of the storytelling
p. 12—describes Scoresby Sr as the “father of whale slaughter”
p. 166-67, on the author’s family library, likening it to that of Dr. John Dee, a great Elizabethan book collector.