During the Civil War, Joseph Twichell, future father-in-law of Charles Ives, worked as a Congregational chaplain in the Union Army next to a Jesuit priest named Joseph O’Hagan, with whom he became lifelong close friends. After the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, the two exhausted themselves helping the wounded, and then slept huddled together beneath blankets against the December cold. O’Hagan laughed, and, when Twichell asked him what was funny, replied, “The scene of you and me – me, a Jesuit priest, and you, a Puritan minister of the worst kind, spooned together under the same blankets.” Twichell loved telling this story at renunions. I found it on page 97 of Steve Courtney’s excellent Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend, which is an eminently enjoyable history of a lot of pre-Ives background, though eccentric son-in-law Ives is only mentioned in a few spots.
So this clearly explains the oddly uncontextualized comment Ives drops in on page 85 of his Essays, where he says that Beethoven, upon having his orchestration updated by Mahler, was probably “in the same amiable state of mind that the Jesuit priest said God was when He looked down on the camp ground and saw the priest sleeping with a Congregational chaplain.” What a weird little personal thing to include (and potentially confusing given today’s euphemistic use of the phrase). I’m finding a lot of little explanatory factoids about the Essays and am having trouble placing them in the narrative; maybe easier to put them here.