Human virtues are plants which never strike a deep rootThe Lives of Celebrated Travelers III (James Augustus St. John, 1832)
unless shaken by misfortune. Virtue consists in
the directing of our intellectual and physical energies
to a praiseworthy end; but if our energies be
naturally feeble, or dwindle and wither away through
lack of exercise, our virtue, by a necessary consequence,
must become dwarfish and insignificant, and
utterly incapable of exciting enthusiastic sympathy
in those who behold its meek and timid bearing.
James Augustus St. John was a traveler and biographer. He was an opinionated fellow. Here he is speaking of the traveller Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1818), a squirmy little fellow who insufficiently directed energies to praiseworthy ends. Quite the naturalist, though.