Scott met Ruskin in Venice with Ferrey in 1851, as he says:
I here met Ruskin whom I knew before and we spent a most delightful evening with him.
Scott had probably first met Ruskin in connection with St. Giles, Camberwell, the Ruskin family’s church, but they might have had contact more recently over Scott’s Plea, as he mentions Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps of Architecture in several places, although it had appeared, in 1849, only one year before Scott’s book. This was too late, so Scott says, to consider it when he was writing the main part of his book. However he did manage to incorporate some footnotes and end-notes on Ruskin’s work, as well as a quotation from the chapter entitled, ‘The Lamp of Memory’, on the fly-leaf. For example, in an end-note, while agreeing with Ruskin’s plea for the preservation of old buildings, he stated that Ruskin ‘goes far beyond me in his conservatism; so far, indeed, as to condemn, without exception, every attempt at restoration, as inevitably destructive to the life and truthfulness of an ancient monument’. As an architect, Scott says that he would, quoting Ruskin’s own words, ‘watch an old building with anxious care’, and ‘count its stones as you would the jewels of a crown’, but, he claims, ‘alas! the damage is already effected; the neglect of centuries and the spoiler’s hand has already done its work’, and if ‘the building is to be something more than a monument of memory’ it is necessary ‘that its dilapidations and its injuries shall be repaired’. This is probably just another example of Scott’s touchiness, when he felt that every slight criticism, whether directly aimed at him or not, required vigorous refutation.
In late 1851 Ruskin was an established author having published, or about to publish, some seven books, as well as numerous magazine contributions. Although only thirty-two years old, he was widely read and highly acclaimed as a critic, poet and artist in his own right. Scott, on the other hand, at forty, had only produced one disjointed short book, which had little popular appeal. While it is unlikely that Ruskin would have read Scott’s Plea at the time of their meeting in Venice, it is certain that Scott would have read the first volume of Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, which had come out earlier in 1851. Scott continued to disagree with Ruskin on restoration and, in 1858, he wrote a note in which he ‘combated the extreme views of Mr. Ruskin against any form of restoration’. Presumably it was because of this note, and Ruskin’s declining interest in architecture, that Ruskin remained aloof from the Gothic verses classic controversy over the design of the Foreign Office. In 1859, Ruskin dismissively wrote that ‘there is not a man living who can build either. What a goose poor Scott (who will get his liver fit for pate de Strasburg with vexation) must be, not to say at once he’ll build anything’. Although this was written in a private letter, and it has been suggested that Ruskin overstated his dislike of Scott, he very publically humiliated him fifteen years later, refusing the Institute’s offer of the Royal Gold Medal when Scott was its President. (see RIBA)