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Bell became so proficient that he became a part of his father's public demonstrations and astounded audiences with his abilities.He could decipher Visible Speech representing virtually every language, including Latin, Scottish Gaelic, and even Sanskrit, accurately reciting written tracts without any prior knowledge of their pronunciation.

His school record was undistinguished, marked by absenteeism and lacklustre grades.

His main interest remained in the sciences, especially biology while he treated other school subjects with indifference, to the dismay of his demanding father.

In 1868, not long before he departed for Canada with his family, Bell completed his matriculation exams and was accepted for admission to the University of London.

The rudimentary "mechanical man" simulated a human voice.

His father published a variety of works on the subject, several of which are still well known, especially his The Standard Elocutionist (1860), which appeared in Edinburgh in 1868.

The Standard Elocutionist appeared in 168 British editions and sold over a quarter of a million copies in the United States alone.

Bell's preoccupation with his mother's deafness led him to study acoustics.

His family was long associated with the teaching of elocution: his grandfather, Alexander Bell, in London, his uncle in Dublin, and his father, in Edinburgh, were all elocutionists.

His best friend was Ben Herdman, a neighbour whose family operated a flour mill, the scene of many forays.

Young Bell asked what needed to be done at the mill.

After he taught it to growl continuously, Bell would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog's lips and vocal cords to produce a crude-sounding "Ow ah oo ga ma ma".