And whoever wrote them, they weren't about the death of Queen Victoria, but about the illness of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, they should run:
Across the wires the electric message came:
He is no better, he is much the same
and they are usually attributed to Alfred Austin (1835-1913; Poet Laureate, 1896-1913), but were probably not his.
D B Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee, in their splendid book The Stuffed Owl - An Anthology of Bad Verse, attribute them to 'an unknown university poet, on the recovery of the Prince of Wales', but spoil the whole effect by replacing the word 'electric' by 'gloomy'. I suspect that 'gloomy' is indeed what the unknown poet wrote: 'electric' is an inspired emendation, but it's too good to be true.
R G Chambers
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