Having written to try to help Nicolas Riccardi back to some clarity regarding his Oblate vocation, Eugene wrote to Tempier to tell him about it. He complains about people who have so many conflicting ideals and are unable to make clear decisions. Using the image of the multi-colored clothes of the people of one of the cities of Italy, he reflects on the lack of perseverance in religious vocations in general.
I have written a long letter to [Riccardi]; I am sending it to you because I want you to have it copied before giving it to him. I think it as well that one should know in future what I think of these harlequins, who have as much of the motley in their soul as these fine citizens of Bergamo have in their costumes.
Do not be surprised at so many defections. There were countless such in the time of the blessed Alphonse in his Congregation and after his death, it had gone so far that quite a number of candidates entered the Society to be ordained without a patrimony and said farewell to the company as soon as they were priests. They were obliged to take the precaution of having them sign a document whereby they were obliged, if they left the Society before ten years, to defray the expenses they had incurred. Amongst the Lazarists, one fine day, eight students, that is to say, amongst those who had made their vows and completed their courses of philosophy and theology, decided amongst themselves to go and become Dominicans. The event perhaps had less of an effect on them, because they were more numerous, but this misfortune nonetheless happened to them as to us. Who could count the secularizations and even the apostasies in the religious Orders? Poor human race, how few are the real men you have!
Letter to Henri Tempier, 18 February 1826, EO VII n 226
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things, distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” Thomas Carlyle