There was a desk in the middle of the room with voluminous piles of paper and notebooks.
But from a study of Dalton's own MS. laboratory notebooks, discovered in the rooms of the Manchester society, Roscoe and Harden (A New View of the Origin of Dalton's Atomic Theor y, 1896) conclude that so far from Dalton being led to the idea that chemical combination consists in the approximation of atoms of definite and characteristic weight by his search for an explanation of the law of combination in multiple proportions, the idea of atomic structure arose in his mind as a purely physical conception, forced upon him by study of the physical properties of the atmosphere and other gases.
He proceeds to give what has been quoted as his first table of atomic weights, but on p. 248 of his laboratory notebooks for 1802-1804, under the date 6th of September 1803, there is an earlier one in which he sets forth the relative weights of the ultimate atoms of a number of substances, derived from analysis of water, ammonia, carbon-dioxide, &c. by chemists of the time.
During those visits his chief business was to watch Johnson, to discover all Johnson's habits, to turn the conversation to subjects about which Johnson was likely to say something remarkable, and to fill quarto notebooks with minutes of what Johnson had said.
Berthelot, La Revolution chimique: Lavoisier (1890), which contains an analysis of and extracts from his laboratory notebooks.